Racist advert storm spreads

Nonkululeko Gobodo, a non-executive director at the Clicks Group, insisted she was not a token black and also defended Clicks chief executive Vikesh Ramsunder, saying he was not a “tick-box CEO”.

10 September 2020 | International

SIHLE MLAMBO

JOHANNESBURG



Clicks and Tresemmé, the two companies at the centre of a racism storm over black women's hair, should release the names of the senior executives who were involved in the publishing of the controversial advert, says a non-executive director at the Clicks Group, Nonkululeko Gobodo.

Gobodo was speaking to Talk Radio 702 yesterday. A Tresemmé advert which was published on the Clicks website last week described black women's hair as frizzy, dull, dry and damaged, sparking fury online and subsequent EFF-led protests at Clicks stores around the country this week. Gobodo said the executives at the ad agency responsible, Clicks and Tresemmé should all be named. “I fully agree with the principle,” she said when asked if those responsible should be named. “First of all, this is not a Clicks ad, it is a Tresemmé ad. These things will continue to happen because the agencies get away with it. We want to know the agency, the names, the executives at Unilever, and yes, maybe Clicks must come forward with the name of the executive who has resigned,” said Gobodo.

Stores closed

All Clicks stores were closed yesterday to allow for counselling.

A senior executive has resigned and two junior staffers face disciplinary action. Unilever-owned Tresemmé apologised for the advert last Friday but has not made any media comment since.

The company has referred all media queries to a statement on their website apologising for the incident.

Meanwhile, Gobodo said she had raised concerns about how the Clicks brand was connecting with black women at a meeting about a month ago.

“This thing (racism storm) has really highlighted that. At the last strategy session about a month ago I asked, how are you talking to your black market?

“I was given a plan and all of that, and this has been proven not to be working. As a board we must make sure this does not happen again,” said Gobodo.

Gobodo also said she did not know the name of the Clicks senior executive who had resigned because as a non-executive director, she was not involved in the day-to-day operations of the retailer.

However, she said, the resignation was testament to the culture of accountability at the “well-run” Clicks.



Storm

Meanwhile, she said Clicks would be using the recent storm to reflect and expand on its local hair product offering. She said Clicks only imported 6% of products from outside the country and that the new strategy would ensure the retailer would look to developing black suppliers. “As black people, we buy these products and we want to see them on the supplier end as well,” said Gobodo. She said she had volunteered to speak on behalf of Clicks and had not been pushed to represent the company as a black woman. “No one asked me to do this interview. I hate racism.

“I am tired that we have to talk about these issues all the time, but there is no movement. I see this as an opportunity to put the agenda front and centre, because we must not rest; racism is a crime. The second reason why I volunteered is that we always talk about gender issues and transformation in the same sentence, when it is not. Transformation is a journey and we have not seen enough progress,” she said. Gobodo insisted she was not a token black and also defended Clicks chief executive Vikesh Ramsunder, saying he was not a tick-box CEO, but someone who had been groomed in the company and who had worked for it for 25 years before taking his place in the hot seat.

-IOL

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