Unilever, which supplies TRESemmé products in SA, and the EFF on Thursday reached mutual ground on the future of the hair-care brand.
While large retailers such as Shoprite Checkers, Pick n Pay and Clicks had agreed to pull TRESemmé products from their shelves after an alleged racist advertisement by the brand, Unilever and the EFF have agreed that these products can be put back on shelves in 10 days’ time.
In a joint statement, issued after a meeting between the two, they said they had reached an agreement on 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.
Among the list of demands from the EFF to Unilever was that it supply the names of their employees who were behind the ad.
Unilever told the EFF it could not give in to this demand.
“We could not find each other on the publishing of the names of the people responsible for the racist image,” the joint statement from the two parties said. “Moreover, the director involved in the campaign has since left the company and the country,” the statement revealed.
The company would take action against the remaining employees.
The TRESemmé advert was published by Clicks on its website last week.
It showed four images: two of black women’s hair described as being “frizzy and dull” and “dry and damaged”, against two images of a white woman’s hair, described as “fine and flat” and then as “normal”.
The ad caused outrage with the EFF taking action against beauty and health retailer. The company explained the ad was not its own, apologised for publishing the images and said it was an oversight on its part. It suspended the staff who put the ad on its website.
The EFF, however, did not retreat and embarked on protest action against Clicks, calling for it to cut all ties with Unilever. The party said the advert had racist undertones and called for those who approved it to be fired. It disrupted operations at several Clicks stores around the country. A number of Clicks stores were damaged in the unrest.
Clicks had to obtain a court interdict to bar EFF protesters from intimidating its staff and customers and also from damaging its property. It suspended operations at all its outlets on Wednesday.
The EFF has also started talks with Clicks representatives.