Dunkin' Donuts calls its blackface ads in Thailand insensitive

Aug. 31, 2013 at 12:25 PM
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BANGKOK, Aug. 31 (UPI) -- Dunkin' Donuts has apologized for an advertising campaign in Thailand, featuring a woman in black face, that a human rights group called "bizarre and racist."

The Bangkok Post reported Saturday the ad campaign is reminiscent of the black face makeup used in early 20th century vaudeville acts and other venues that was condemned as racist.

"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.

On its U.S. Web site, Dunkin' Donuts called the advertisements "insensitive' and said it was working with the Thailand franchisee that created the ads to "immediately pull the ad."

"I'm sorry, but this is a marketing campaign, and it's working very well for us," the company's chief executive officer for Thailand, Nadim Salhani, said.

"It's absolutely ridiculous. We're not allowed to use black paint to promote our donuts? 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," said Salhani, whose teenage daughter posed for the advertisement.

"Not everybody in the world is paranoid about racism," said Salhani, who is Lebanese.

Standards on racism in Thailand are different from the those in the United States, the newspaper reported.

In Thailand, there is a brand of household cleaning supplies called "Black Man" with a logo that depicts a black man in formal dress. A toothpaste ad uses the sales pitch that it is "black, but it's good."

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