OUTsurance boycott: More than just idle threats

Johannesburg - At least 17% of users participating in a Fin24 poll claim they have cancelled their OUTSurance policies after a controversial Father's Day advert.

The OUTSurance advert, deemed racist, caused a social media storm on Sunday with experts warning the incident could affect the insurer's future business. 

Internet analyst and expert Arthur Goldstuck told Fin24 that the incident may have tarnished the image of the company, branding it as racist. The fracas may very well have warded off prospective future clients, he believed.

READ: OUTsurance wrong to blame junior staffer

“After the incident, OUTsurance have been very apologetic. The incident may have been blown out of proportion, but it is a useful reminder to corporates,” he said. 

The advert, which was torn apart on social media on Father's Day for only depicting white fathers as good parents, created an ensemble of social media videos showing fathers interacting with their children. No black fathers featured in the advert. Numerous Twitter users labelled it racist, while many irate policyholders threatened to cancel their policies. OUTSurance then posted a short tweet as an apology to the reaction.

“The incident speaks to corporate culture. Clearly many corporates need sensitivity training,” Goldstuck said. 

There was a definite risk that future clients will be spooked not only by the advert, but also by the way it was handled. He said OUTSurance will have to manage its image carefully to again attract  potential clients who now view the company as racist. 

“If they are positioned as a racist organisation, it is not going to get them any new business. It might not have major impact on current customers but it is an important wake-up call,” Goldstuck told Fin24. 

READ: OUTSurance slated over 'racist' Father's Day ad

OUTSurance's reluctance to take full responsibility for the advert caused more uproar. In its first apology the insurer blamed a junior staffer for the production of the video, with other reports stating it had not been approved by senior management.

Fin24 Poll

Fin24 polled Twitter users asking: “Did you cancel your OUTsurance policy over Father's Day ad?”.

Within 4 hours, 17% said “Yes”; 27% said “No”; 4% said they hadn't yet decided and 52% said “I don't have one”.

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