The Dunkin' Donuts franchise in Thailand launched a campaign earlier this month for its new 'Charcoal Donut.' YouTube
Hide Caption

Agree? Dunkin' Donuts commercial called 'bizarre and racist'

a a a a
Share this story

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.

Print this article

Comments

Hmm... It looks like you’re not a WCPO Insider. or Subscribe now to contribute!

More Say What? News
Teen survives in wheel well during Maui flight
Teen survives in wheel well during Maui flight

A 16-year-old boy stowed away in the wheel well of a flight from California to Hawaii on Sunday, surviving the trip halfway across the…

Pot holiday '4/20' looks to go mainstream in CO
Pot holiday '4/20' looks to go mainstream in CO

Tens of thousands of revelers raised joints, pipes and vaporizer devices to the sky Sunday at a central Denver park in a defiant toast to the…

PD: Man pelts GF with eggs at Easter party
PD: Man pelts GF with eggs at Easter party

Pittsburgh police say a man threw hardboiled eggs at his girlfriend during an Easter egg decorating party, then tried to attack police.

Educator: 'Game of Thrones' pic got me suspended
Educator: 'Game of Thrones' pic got me suspended

A New Jersey professor claims he was suspended over an online photo containing a quote from "Game of Thrones" that he says a school…

Ohio woman finds bird leg in Dole spinach bag
Ohio woman finds bird leg in Dole spinach bag

An Ohio woman, who eats a salad nearly every day and makes spinach smoothies, has lost her appetite for her favorite vegetable after making a…

Nutty finale for 'Scandal,' TV's craziest show
Nutty finale for 'Scandal,' TV's craziest show

"Scandal" is arguably the nuttiest show on the air. But there's a method to its madness, demonstrated every week with OMG intensity.

Facebook to launch new location-sharing feature
Facebook to launch new location-sharing feature

Facebook users in the U.S. will soon be able to see which of their friends are in close proximity using a new feature the company is…

'Hefty Lefty' weighs in on NCAA ruling on food
'Hefty Lefty' weighs in on NCAA ruling on food

The former NFL and University of Kentucky quarterback playfully referred to as "Hefty Lefty" is having a little fun on social media…

Male cop dresses as Amish woman to stop flasher
Male cop dresses as Amish woman to stop flasher

A western Pennsylvania police officer says he spent much of December and January dressed as an Amish woman in hopes of scaring off a man…

VIDEO: Flight attendant's funny safety speech
VIDEO: Flight attendant's funny safety speech

We've all been there. You finally get settled into your airline seat, anxious to reach your destination. But before you can go anywhere…