Clicks advert racist and archaic

EFF members outside a Clicks store in Cape Town after an advert negatively portrayed black women’s hair. Picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA)

By: Nyaniso Qwesha

An advert for Clicks this weekend, illustrated hair in racist terminology that has pushed the country into an uproar. What was concerning to me was the words put on the black hair as being dry and damaged hair, and those on the white person hair were considered normal hair.

The question remains what the intention of the advert ? I had to try and align this debacle to the Hofstede’s Six Dimensions of Culture to put this in context and help companies understand their cultural biases. According to one dimension of Hofstede’s Power Distance Index (PDI), South Africa scored 49 on PDI. This score means that people accept a hierarchical order and the centralization of power.

Furthermore, this is almost two years since a similar incident happened at H&M. I am highlighting H&M thinking that all the companies and advertising agencies have learned a lesson from what had happened. This company (H&M) was a global company that could not escape the backslash around the world, and South Africa was not immune, and this was because their advert was in bad taste.

Recently, Clicks posted an offensive advert, and everyone in South Africa has expressed their distaste. It amazes me that they did not take any lessons from the H &M saga. I would think though this was an eye-opener to all companies in South Africa, specifically to treat diversity as an essential factor. There is a critical need to include everyone, especially those affected by the decision to get their views about such adverts or events in the future.

Reading the below message from clicks makes me think twice above them being sincere. Why was the advert posted in the first place? Everyone involved didn’t see anything wrong with the advert, that it is in bad taste and needs revision and sent back to the advert’s designers.

An extract of an apology from Clicks:

“We would like to issue an unequivocal apology. We have removed the images which go against everything we believe in. We do not condone racism, and we are strong advocates of natural hair. We are deeply sorry and will put stricter measures on our website.”

What has this advert done to all of us is not going to be erased easily in our minds. Clicks will need to take all the necessary actions to ensure that, as a company, they take all the steps required to ensure that everyone in the company is aware of their efforts towards a diverse and inclusive society.