Colgate has responded to the controversy surrounding its "White Night In" event, which involved a number of New Zealand Instagram influencers on Thursday night.

The virtual event has been slammed on social media in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests against systemic racism across the globe.

On Thursday evening, several New Zealand influencers took to Instagram dressed in white satin pyjamas to promote Colgate toothpaste.

Numerous people, including high-profile influencers who did not take part, called the event "tone deaf" in the context of what is happening in the world.

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A spokesperson for Colgate has told the Herald that "the name of the event from the beginning was "Hotel Colgate" with the tagline "White Night In".

The company says it has received feedback from attendees as well as the general public and "will do better".

"We understand the concerns shared and acknowledge that the promotion struck a wrong chord. We also regret that attendees were placed in a difficult position but we have learned from hearing from them and the community," the spokesperson said.

"We will do better, including in our efforts to ensure that we better represent our brands to reflect the diversity of New Zealanders."

Matilda Green has apologised for her involvement in Colgate's
Matilda Green has apologised for her involvement in Colgate's "White Night In".

The event, on behalf of Colgate, reportedly involved sending PR packages with white linen and white pyjamas to a "guest list" of New Zealand influencers to participate in the "White Night In".

On Thursday night, some influencers took part by donning their new white PJs.

In a post that was still online yesterday morning, but appears to have since been deleted, influencer Simone Anderson posed in white pyjamas in bed, with food, wine, her computer and her dog, as well as a tube of Colgate's new teeth-whitening product.

Former Bachelorette Matilda Green also took part in the event and has since posted a public apology.

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Speaking on her Instagram stories, Green said she was "waiting on Colgate to speak first" but, as that hasn't happened, she decided to go ahead with her statement.

"I am very very sorry," she said, adding that the event was "definitely tone deaf and insensitive".

"It definitely shouldn't have happened."

The influencer also addressed criticism of the "lack of diversity in the guest list".

"I got the full list ahead of the event. I assumed it would be diverse, I didn't even think about it," she said.

"I have definitely learnt from that."

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"I need to take responsibility and use my influence to make sure that these guests lists of PR events are diverse because it's important," she added.

Simone Anderson was one of the New Zealand influencers who took part in the PR event. Photo / Instagram
Simone Anderson was one of the New Zealand influencers who took part in the PR event. Photo / Instagram

Influencer Makaia Carr has also criticised the event, stating she does not understand how it could have gone from planning to sign-off without anyone questioning it in the current climate.

"It tarnishes the work of those who have been in the PR world for a long time and do a bloody good job," she said.

Carr says those involved in the planning and execution of the event should have asked themselves whether it was "appropriate" and whether they were being "sensitive to the global issues in the world right now".

"It's time for a change. The world is screaming for a change."

Carr also applauded Maria Foy, of Happy Mum Happy Child, for speaking up against the event.

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"Props to Maria Foy," Carr said, adding that Foy is a "white woman, with something to lose", which makes it even more important that the spoke up.

Foy also took to her Instagram Stories to address the topic, saying she is "not proud" it has taken her so long to discuss the issue.

"Everything that's happened has made me realise that staying quiet about things isn't right," Foy said.

Foy believes the promotion could have been named better.

'Look I get it. I do. At its core it was clearly a teeth-brightening toothpaste campaign. But given the current climate where BLM and racism is at the forefront, and my own personal journey with everything, I didn't feel it was appropriate that a promotion be called that," Foy wrote.

"Call it 'Bright Night' or whatever. But 'White Night' ... just doesn't make sense given everything going on at the moment. Not to me anyway.

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