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South African Retailers Ditch US Hair Brand over Racist Ad

Some of South Africa’s biggest retailers have shelved TRESemmé hair products, following protests over an advert that denigrated black hair. Pictures of African hair were labelled “frizzy and dull”, “dry and damaged” in an online advert for TRESemmé products featured by pharmacy chain Clicks. White hair, meanwhile, was labelled “normal” and “fine and flat”. Shoprite, Woolworths and Pick N Pay all say they have removed TRESemmé products from their shelves, as has Clicks. Earlier this week, a senior executive at Clicks resigned and a number of employees were suspended. Many Clicks stores were forced to close on Monday following protests led by opposition party Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), who called the hair advert “racist” and “dehumanising”. Following a meeting between the EFF, Clicks and TRESemmé’s parent company Unilever on Thursday, the party said Unilever would remove all TRESemmé products from South African stores for a period of 10 days and donate at least 10,000 sanitary pads to informal settlements in the country. Late on Friday, Unilever admitted that the advert was racist and unreservedly apologised for it. It said staff would take part in ‘Unconscious Bias’ training and would be setting up a diversity and inclusion advisory board. The company said it was also in the process of reviewing all its marketing material.