BANGKOK -- A leading human rights group has called on Dunkin' Donuts to withdraw a "bizarre and racist" advertisement for chocolate doughnuts in Thailand that shows a smiling woman with bright pink lips in blackface makeup.
The Dunkin' Donuts franchise in Thailand launched a campaign earlier this month for its new "Charcoal Donut" featuring the image, which is reminiscent of 19th and early 20th century American stereotypes for black people that are now considered offensive symbols of a racist era.
In posters and TV commercials, the campaign shows the woman with a shiny jet black, 1950s-style beehive hairdo holding a bitten black doughnut alongside the slogan: "Break every rule of deliciousness."
Human Rights Watch said it was shocked to see an American brand name running an advertising campaign that would draw "howls of outrage" if released in the United States.
"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."
The campaign hasn't ruffled many in Thailand, where it's common for advertisements to inexplicably use racial stereotypes. A Thai brand of household mops and dustpans called "Black Man" uses a logo with a smiling black man in a tuxedo and bow tie. One Thai skin whitening cream runs TV commercials that say white-skinned people have better job prospects than those with dark skin. An herbal Thai toothpaste says its dark-colored product "is black, but it's good."
The CEO for Dunkin' Donuts in Thailand dismissed the criticism as "paranoid American thinking."
"It's absolutely ridiculous," said 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?"
Salhani said 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, which he attributed to curiosity about the new advertisements.
"Not everybody in the world is paranoid about racism," said Salhani, a Lebanese expatriate in Thailand who said his teenage daughter was the model featured in the campaign. "I'm sorry, but this is a marketing campaign, and it's working very well for us."
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
We've all been there. You finally get settled into your airline seat, anxious to reach your destination. But before you can go anywhere…
US Airways posted a message on Twitter that contained a graphic image in response to a passenger Monday afternoon.
An Indiana University student's appearance on syndicated TV game show "Wheel of Fortune" got a lot of attention over the…
KFC is using a "special recipe" to promote young love and quell a few cravings.
A man accused of harassing a neighbor and her disabled children for the past 15 years sat at a street corner Sunday morning with a sign…
An Oklahoma City girl has sold a 3.85-carat diamond she found at an Arkansas park for $20,000.
Kansas City Zoo officials say the chimpanzees are back in their habitat after escaping on Thursday afternoon.
Beijing artist returns home with a glass jar of clean, Provence air. He sold it for roughly $860.
University of Connecticut officials have suspended a sorority as they investigate allegations that its members forced men to drink booze, eat…
Joey Votto broke out of his stoic shell for an interview with MLB Network, dressed and in character as a Canadian Mountie.