Johannesburg - 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 Sunday'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).”
Outsurance aside, advertising in insurance industry wholly problematic. White faces sell life insurance, black faces sell funeral policies
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.