Fa­ther’s Day ad­vert ruf­fles feath­ers

The Star Early Edition - - FRONT PAGE - KHAYA KOKO @khayakoko88 khaya.koko@inl.co.za

OUT­surance has blamed a ju­nior em­ployee for the “anti-Black” Fa­ther’s Day so­cial me­dia ad­vert that back­fired on the com­pany af­ter it caused a furore on so­cial me­dia.

The con­tro­ver­sial ad­vert shows sev­eral col­lated video scenes where men – pur­port­edly fa­thers, who are mostly white – do a myr­iad pos­i­tive ac­tiv­i­ties with their chil­dren to cel­e­brate yes­ter­day’s Fa­ther’s Day.

The video ad­vert was cap­tioned: “Happy #Father­sDay to all amaz­ing dads out there.” But Twit­ter users were scathing in their crit­i­cism of the in­sur­ance com­pany for the ad­vert, ar­gu­ing the cam­paign was not rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the coun­try’s de­mo­graph­ics and showed that only white men made good fa­thers.

One user, Pholoho Sele­bano, wrote: “@OUT­surance first you raised R250 000 for Knysna fires, but have never do­nated to the shack fire vic­tims. Now an anti-Black fa­thers day ad (sic).”

Peter Cronjé, head of mar­ket­ing at the in­sur­ance com­pany, ac­knowl­edged that the ad­vert was “de­mo­graph­i­cally in­ap­pro­pri­ate”, point­ing the fin­ger squarely at a ju­nior em­ployee for the “un­in­ten­tional over­sight”.

“This ad­vert was created by one of our ju­nior ladies in the so­cial me­dia depart­ment and I be­lieve she made an in­no­cent mis­take when she created and posted this video.

“This is the first time we have had trou­ble with one of our ads be­cause we make sure that they are rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the coun­try’s de­mo­graph­ics,” Cronjé told The Star shortly af­ter re­mov­ing the cam­paign from the com­pany’s so­cial me­dia sites.

He em­pha­sised that the Knysna money col­lected went to the ma­jor­ity black neigh­bour­hoods of the town, which was re­cently af­fected by run­away veld fires.

Asked whether he had seen and ap­proved the ad­vert be­fore its pub­lish­ing, Cronjé said he hadn’t, be­fore adding: “We give our so­cial me­dia em­ploy­ees some lee­way to run cam­paigns in or­der to em­power our young staff.

“I will have a word with the young lady to make her more aware of how our cam­paigns should re­flect South Africa’s de­mo­graph­ics.”

How­ever, so­cial ac­tivist Yusuf Abram­jee al­luded to a sim­i­lar Mother’s Day ad­vert by OUT­surance, where all the women and chil­dren in it were white. Abram­jee told The Star he was very dis­ap­pointed with OUT­surance – a com­pany he worked with dur­ing his time as the head of ac­tivist group LeadSA – for not “re­form­ing” in line with South Africa’s quest for non-racial­ism.

“South Africa has been a democ­racy for 23 years now and for a com­pany like OUT­surance to have an ad which is 99% white – I think there is one per­son of colour in that whole ad­vert, if I’m not mis­taken – I think it’s a dis­grace,” he as­serted.

“If I was an OUT­surance client, I would se­ri­ously re­con­sider my busi­ness with them as a per­son of colour.”

Cronjé said he still had to dis­cuss with his fel­low ex­ec­u­tives whether they would take down the Mother’s Day ad­vert, adding that the com­pany’s so­cial me­dia ad­verts do not un­dergo the same “strin­gent de­mo­graphic” fil­ter­ing as TV ad­verts do.

“OUT­surance is a re­spon­si­ble cor­po­rate cit­i­zen and peo­ple should not think we are racist,” he said, al­lud­ing to var­i­ous ini­tia­tives that he said the com­pany does to up­lift black peo­ple, in­clud­ing the “only black” points men and women the com­pany em­ploys to ease traf­fic con­ges­tion in Gaut­eng met­ros.

AD­VERT DEEMED ‘UN­FIT’: A screen grab of an OUT­surance Fa­ther’s Day ad­vert that caused a storm on so­cial me­dia as it mostly fea­tured white dads.

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