The Citizen (KZN)
Dear Generalissimo Julius Malema, Comandante de la Revolución, Nemesis of Clicks, Congratulations on ordering your ground troops to “ATTACK!” The upper case was presumably for the benefit of fighters who don’t see so well. If you’re going to be a revolutionary leader, that really is the only command worth tweeting. Well, that and “bring me the 18-year-old!” Being a man of wealth and taste, you will know I’m referring to the Glenfiddich rather than someone’s niece.
Who could have imagined that Clicks, of all chains, would have been the one to revive your flagging brand? You don’t get more middle-class than Clicks. But they are not as harmless as they appear. Many a man has felt the life force drain from his body at the words: “I’m just popping in to Clicks. Won’t be a minute”.
You’re absolutely right, darling. You won’t be a minute. In the meantime, I’ll wait for you on this bench. No, I won’t move. I’ll be here when you’re done. I might die of boredom or old age, or a self-inflicted wound, but what was once me will still be on the bench. Let me attach this “Do not resuscitate” tag to my ankle. Bye, darling.
I digress. My point is that Clicks has dark powers way beyond blind, blundering racism and I am pleased that you and your valiant fighters have taken the time to shut down the branches. Or at least stand outside them with arms crossed and legs apart, which might not be a conventional military posture, but is certainly one that’s favoured by today’s smart casual insurgent.
Churchill once made a speech about fighting on the beaches. Please. Who doesn’t want to go the beach, even if it is to fight? And you can’t fight all the time. Between fighting, you can swim and lie in the sun. It’s different with malls. That’s where the real battles are waged. Civilians think it’s easy to fight your way to Mugg & Bean for a bit of R&R after fiercely defending your position on the southern front (Lemon Tree shopping centre in Alberton), but it’s not.
While you were rallying the troops on the northern front (Mall of the North in Polokwane), Colonel Floyd Shivambu was holding the line in Sandton City. Clicks, he shouted, must suffer the consequences. The previous Clicks CEO, David Kneale, earned R200 000 a day. There’s a good chance Clicks might not understand the concept of consequences. If you and I had a market cap of R56 billion, we probably wouldn’t, either.
Floyd said stores had to stay shut and that the people who worked there were “unfortunate collateral”. The EFF is not a big fan of collateral at the best of times. Far better to get “loans” with no strings attached. Collateral is for suckers.
I saw the advert that caused all the trouble. Two black models with hair described as “frizzy, dry, dull and damaged”. That’s pretty much me on a Sunday morning. Maybe not so frizzy. Two white models, with flowing blonde locks, are described as having hair that is “normal, fine and flat”.
As far as advertising faux pas go, this is right up there with Burger King’s 2009 Singapore campaign challenging women to swallow one of their seven-inch cheeseburgers. They even managed to work the word “blow” into the copy.
Okay, this is different. Sex sells. Racism, less so. It might work in America when it comes to getting swing voters behind Donald Trump but out here, in the real world, you don’t do that kind of thing.
You probably already know that the current Clicks CEO, Vikesh Ramsunder, has apologised profusely for the ad. Has this man even heard of the EFF?
Did he seriously think an apology would satisfy your thirst for revenge and hunger for publicity? An apology is nothing without a torching of the ad agency and a public stoning of the copywriters who came up with this atrocity. We expect more from the industry. Bad coke is not an excuse for bad adverts.
I went to Clicks at my local mall on Monday hoping to join the protest but it wasn’t happening. There was just some old guy at the door spraying people’s hands. He had two bottles. The good stuff for whities, Novichok for the rest.
I proceeded directly to the hair care section – the aisle of horrors – which quickly emptied when I began photographing the products. Was I the EFF’s equivalent of Carl Niehaus or an undercover DA agent? Either way, I looked like trouble. Nobody questioned me for fear of being identified as a Clicks employee.
What I found shocked me to the core. The entire hair care range is awash in innuendo and fabrication. A veritable quagmire of treachery, deceit and coded messages. There is indeed a product for women with “normal, fine and flat hair”. It’s called Nice ‘n Easy. I was outraged. If there is anything I know, it’s white women. The nice ones are never easy and the easy ones are never nice. This is false advertising at its best and I came close to setting the shop on fire.
Then I spotted a product called Inecto. At first I thought it said Infecto, but that was the pandemic talking. They have a range of colours, all of them black. There’s Natural Black, Super Black, Perfect Black. A fun family game is to slot our politicians into these categories.
Another product called Black Chic tops the lot with Mega Black. No, wait. Secrets has Superior Black. I laughed out loud because that one reminded me of you, comrade. I hope their CCTV wasn’t working. You don’t want to be caught on camera being white and laughing at black hair products. Not now. Not ever.
I drifted down to the products for people with white hair. White people with hair. So many colours. You could wake up with a different woman every morning if she kept her back to you and didn’t say anything. I’ve had marriages like that. Less fun than you might think.
I was surprised to find a section for men. I always thought we slowly went grey, then died. Apparently Schwarzkopf, a name with its own private ironies, offers an “anti-grey colour gel for a 100% natural result”. Nothing weird about that, says the tiny portion of my brain devoted to understanding science. Or maths, or whatever that is.
I scoured the shelves hoping to find a product called White Women Must Dye. What a slogan that would be for the EFF’s fledgling Hair Force, right? Instead I found L’Oreal offering “up to eight weeks of radiance”. I don’t know, bro. A woman shines for that long, she works at Koeberg. Forget the condom. You’ll need a geiger counter.
There’s a product called Originals. It sells “hair mayonnaise”. I don’t know who their target market is, but I do know that if she’s prepared to mix it up with a little tuna and vegetable oil, I’ll lick her all night long.
I also found something called Dark & Lovely, which is a nice counterbalance to the whole white supremacy thing Clicks has going on. Thing is, they promise “anti-breakage”. That’s no good. You want to break stuff. Disrupt. Agitate. Otherwise, what’s the point?
Anyway. See you at the barricades, chief. It’ll be like Stalingrad all over again, but with eggs Benedict and mocha java for the victors.
Sex sells. Racism, less so