An advertisement meant to celebrate Father’s day by OUTsurance, a leading insurance company in South Africa, has served to re-ignite decades of racial tension in the country.
On Sunday, OUTsurance posted a video on its Twitter account showing several fathers having a special moment with their kids.
According to IOL, the now-controversial video would have stirred all the right emotions if not for a stark lack of diversity and its failure to represent South Africans of all races.
The video, captioned “Happy #FathersDay to all amazing dads out there,” is a collage of scenes featuring several fathers — all of them white — with a lone Black man as the exception.
The ad sparked outrage online with critics slamming it as racist and a poor representation of South Africa’s demographics.
About 80 percent of South Africa’s 55 million people are Black, with the remaining 20 percent of the population being made up of White, Indian, and multiracial persons.
Critics argued that the ad was a veiled suggestion that only White men made good Fathers. One Twitter user sarcastically congratulated the company for turning what should have been a celebration of all Fathers into a celebration of White Fathers.
Others called for a boycott of the company while pointing out that it raised funds for victims of the recent Knysna fire incident (in a mostly White neighborhood) while conveniently ignoring the victims of fires in South Africa’s ghettos.
In its response to the backlash on social media, OUTsurance issued an apology for what it described as an “unintentional oversight.”
A spokesman for the company, Peter Cronjé, said the ad has been withdrawn and acknowledged that it was “demographically inappropriate.” Ultimately, he put the blame on the advertising staff.
“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,” Cronjé says.
“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.”