The whole saga: Clicks, TRESemmé, and EFF shutdown


It was all rage and rampage this week when Clicks (South Africa’s leading pharmacy, health and beauty retailer with 702 stores and in-store dispensaries) published a controversial hair racist advert on their website.

The advert portrayed black hair as “dry, damaged, frizzy and dull” while it labelled white hair as “fine, flat and normal.” This sparked reactions from South Africans which in turn caused EFF to begin a protest in Clicks stores around the country.

Many on social media tagged the advert “offensive and racist” but Clicks immediately tendered an apology via its social media official page.

The Apology

Clicks mentioned that the advert doesn’t belong to them but was commissioned by TRESemmé who also tendered their apology via its website, saying the advert was for the purpose to promote and celebrate all hair types.

We are very sorry that images used in a TRESemmé SA marketing campaign on the Clicks website promote racist stereotypes about hair. The campaign set out to celebrate the beauty of all hair types and the range of solutions that TRESemmé offers, but we got it wrong. The images are not in line with the values of our brand, or of Clicks.”

TRESemmé SA apologises for the offence these images have caused. We also apologise to the Clicks group. We are looking into how this happened and why it wasn’t picked up, and we will take all the necessary steps to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

The Protest

The Economic Freedom Fighters were in all fire and flames after the controversial post, which led to the mobilisation of a nationwide strike organised by party leaders – Julius Malema and Floyd Shivambu.

Following their protest, about 425 Clicks stores got affected and 7 got damaged. Although reports said it was just a little damage and nothing serious.

The protest led to Clicks removal of all TRESemmé products off its shelves and also the close down of all its outlets in the country.

The Consequences

EFF requested for the names of the employees behind the racist advert that caused the outrage. This saw the resignation of an unidentified senior executive at Clicks.

Moreover, Clicks’ CEO – Vikesh Ramsunder said the organisation has suspended all staffs responsible for publishing the controversial advert on their website.

The Agreement

After four days into the protest, Unilever had a meeting with Julius Malema from EFF and Clicks to discuss the way forward with solution(s) to the ongoing outrage.

The had an agreement that all TRESemmé products should be removed in all retail outlets for 10 days, starting from Thursday.

Moreover, Unilever agreed to donate a minimum of 10,000 sanitary towels and sanitisers to informal settlements identified by the EFF.

The company decided not to publish the names of the employees responsible for the campaign.

Their agreement include the following:

  • Unilever expresses its remorse to all South Africans, black women in particular, for the racist TRESemmé SA image.
  • Unilever will withdraw all TRESemmé SA products from all retail stores for a period of 10 days as a demonstration of its remorse for the offensive and racist image.
  • In addition, Unilever will donate a minimum of 10,000 sanitary towels and sanitisers to informal settlements identified by the EFF.

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