In a weird and misguided effort to sell more glazed fried dough to the masses, Dunkin' Donuts in Thailand came under fire this week for an ad campaign featuring a model in blackface.
Pressure from the activist group Human Rights Watch caused the company to pull the ad today, but the CEO of the Thailand operation, Nadim Salhani, called the public outcry, "absolutely ridiculous."
The ad features Salhani's daughter as the model, and the tagline, "Break every rule of deliciousness." (And, it would seem, propriety...)
"We're not allowed to use black to promote our doughnuts?" Salhani told the Associated Press. "I don't get it. What's the big fuss? What if the product was white and I painted someone white, would that be racist?"
He also characterized the criticism as "paranoid American thinking" and lamented the end of the ad campaign because it had been successful for the company so far.
Dunkin' Donuts Thailand is a franchise operation, but in light of the backlash against the advert, corporate forces stepped in, issuing a public apology, which was released to the Guardian today. Though a corresponding television commercial was also slated for upcoming release, it's since been cancelled.
Human Rights Watch in Asia raised the red flag on the poster Friday, telling the Associated Press, "It’s both bizarre and racist that Dunkin' Donuts thinks that it must color a woman's skin black, and accentuate her lips with bright pink lipstick, to sell a chocolate doughnut."
But the AP reports it's not uncommon for advertising in Thailand to depict racist stereotypes, so much so that consumers don't readily recognize them as racist. One characteristic example is an ink-colored herbal toothpaste whose brand messaging assures buyers that it's "black, but it's good."
Original article from TakePart
- Human Rights Watch