A Dunkin’ Donuts franchise in Thailand was accused earlier this month of racism, after it ran the ad shown at the left. The campaign, titled “Charcoal Donut,” was deemed “bizarre and racist” by the self-appointed morality police at Human Rights Watch, who demanded that the ad be withdrawn.
According to the Associated Press via FOX DC, the ad was condemned for being reminiscent of early twentieth century American stereotypes of black people.
The campaign, which included TV commercials as well as the poster shown, features an image of a woman with a 1950s-style beehive hairdo holding a black doughnut with a bite taken out of it. Her lips, turned up in a smile, are painted pink — the lone use of color in the ad apart from the Dunkin Donuts logo. The slogan, in Siamese, reads: “Break every rule of deliciousness.”
Human Rights Watch felt the ad broke rules of decency as well. A spokesman for the group said:
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. Dunkin’ Donuts should immediately withdraw this ad, publicly apologize to those it’s offended and ensure this never happens again.
But donut lovers in Thailand aren’t bothered by the ad. Neither is the CEO of Dunkin’ Donuts in Thailand, Nadim Salhani, who dismissed the criticism calling it “absolutely ridiculous” and asking:
What’s the big fuss? What if the product was white and I painted someone white, would that be racist?
Salhani further pointed out that the Thai franchise of Dunkin’ Donuts operates independently of the American operation and that doughnut sales have increased about 50 percent since the campaign was launched around two weeks ago — a trend he believes can be attributed to curiosity about the new advertisements. Said Salhani in closing:
Not everybody in the world is paranoid about racism. I’m sorry, but this is a marketing campaign, and it’s working very well for us.
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