Durban – This week, multinational consumer goods company Unilever came under fire after a haircare advert labelling black women’s hair as dry, damaged, frizzy and dull, led to protests outside Clicks stores around the country.
The TRESemmé advert was featured on the Clicks’ social media platforms. Despite being taken down from social media sites and the Clicks website, it sparked outrage around the country.
However, this is not the first time that Unilever has faced backlash for an advert.
Less than three months ago, Unilever agreed to rename a skin-lightening cream which was criticised for promoting negative stereotypes around dark skin tones.
According to BBC, Unilever also agreed to removing references to “whitening” or “lightening” on the products, which are sold across Asia.
According to the report, Unilever acknowledged the branding suggested “a singular ideal of beauty”. Two separate petitions urging Unilever to stop the production of its Fair & Lovely range have been signed by more than 18,000 people in recent weeks.
The first petition said, “This product has built upon, perpetuated and benefited from internalised racism and promotes anti-blackness sentiments”, while the second petition claimed that the brand was telling consumers that there was something wrong with their skin colour and that they needed to be fair to be beautiful or worthy.
In 2017, Unilever faced a social media outcry over an advert for Dove body wash which showed a black woman removing her top to reveal a white woman.
More recently in August its Knorr brand agreed to rename its popular “Zigeuner” – or gypsy – sauce as Hungarian-style paprika sauce after complaints that the name is offensive.
According to the Jakarta Post, the Nazis subjected Sinti – the name used by ethnic Roma based in Germany for centuries – to forced sterilization under “racial purity” laws and Roma were deported to death camps, where they wore uniforms bearing a “Z” for “Zigeuner”.
Earlier today, Unilever officials met with the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) to discuss a way forward.
Unilever, is expected to donate a minimum of 10 000 sanitary pads and sanitisers to informal settlements which will be identified by the EFF. Unilever has also agreed to withdraw all TRESemmé from all retail stores for 10 days.