Ashton Kutcher has found himself on the wrong side of public backlash against a controversial ad campaign that is being called inherently racist. ‘The Two and a Half Men star appeared in brown face to portray a stereotypical Indian character for a commercial, produced by Zambezi Advertising for potato chip snack company, Popchips.
Kutcher plays four drastically different characters in search of love. One of them, named “Raj”, a Bollywood producer, is portrayed in brown face, stereotypical Indian clothes, and speaking with a sing-songy accent.
Harsh criticism of the ad campaign began in the Indian community and then spread all over. People left a barrage of comments expressing disapproval on Popchip’s Facebook page and Twitter feed.
At first, a spokesperson for the company released a statement defending the campaign:
“The new popchips worldwide dating video and ad campaign featuring four characters was created to provoke a few laughs and was never intended to stereotype or offend anyone… At popchips we embrace all types of shapes, flavors and colors, and appreciate all snackers, no matter their race or ethnicity. We hope people can enjoy this in the spirit it was intended.”
However due to the overwhelming amount of pressure, the Raj character was pulled from the campaign, while the other three characters were left in place.
Popchips CEO Keith Belling apologized, writing on his blog:
“I take full responsibility and apologize to anyone we offended.”
Ashton Kutcher has not yet responded to the public outcry.