Dunkin’ Donuts’ latest ad campaign in Thailand introducing a charcoal donut, recently garnered backlash because of imagery featuring a model in blackface.
The print ad was deemed “bizarre and racist” by many critics on social media who managed to put a stop to the same image running on an upcoming TV spot.
The poster features a model in blackface with bright pink lipstick and shimmery green eyeshadow as she holds one of the company’s new charcoal doughnuts from which she has taken a bite.
Along with the image they featured a caption that read, “Break every rule of deliciousness.”
It seems like the caption itself and the decision to use blackface are at the very center of racist allegations.
“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,” said Phil Robertson, the deputy Asia director for Human Rights Watch. “Dunkin’ Donuts should immediately withdraw this ad, publicly apologize to those it’s offended and ensure this never happens again.”
In America it’s been pretty well established that any ad using blackface makeup will be met with serious criticism, but in Thailand people aren’t finding problems with the image.
In fact, the CEO for the Thailand chain of Dunkin’ Donuts defended the advertisement against the controversy by accusing America of being “paranoid” about racism despite the company’s public apologies.
“It’s absolutely ridiculous,” said Thailand CEO Nadim Salhani. “We’re not allowed to use black to promote our doughnuts? 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 went on to say that “not everybody in the world is paranoid about racism” and pointed out that the ad has been quite effective in Thailand and efficiently boosted sales of the new doughnut by 50 percent.
However, Chief Communications Officer for Dunkin’ Donuts, Karen Raskopf did release a public apology on the company’s behalf and admitted that the ad was racially insensitive.
“Dunkin’ Donuts recognizes the insensitivity of this spot and on behalf of our Thailand franchisee and our company, we apologize for any offense it caused,” Raskopf said. “We are working with our franchisee to immediately pull the television spot and to change the campaign.”
This comes after a string of other ads have been released in Thailand, which are more racially insensitive than the Dunkin’ Donuts poster.
A brand of mops in Thailand called the Black Man, uses a logo which features a black man smiling in a tuxedo and bow tie, while a popular skin lightening cream tells its audience that people with lighter skin are more likely to get jobs than people with darker skin.
Even an herbal toothpaste ad in Thailand hinted at racist implications when an ad for the dark colored paste told its potential buyers that the product “is black, but it’s good.”