Human Rights Watch demanded that Dunkin’ Doughnuts remove an ad running in Thailand that the organisation is calling “bizarre and racist.”
The ad, for a chocolate “Charcoal Doughnut,” features a woman in blackface makeup with bright pink lips, evoking memories of the minstrel shows that once mocked black Americans in the United States.
Here’s the ad:
“It’s both bizarre and racist that Dunkin’ Doughnuts thinks that it must colour a woman’s skin black and accentuate her lips with bright pink lipstick to sell a chocolate doughnut,” Phil Robertson, the deputy Asia director for Human Rights Watch, told the Associated Press. “Dunkin’ Doughnuts should immediately withdraw this ad, publicly apologise to those it’s offended and ensure this never happens again.”
The Thai franchise runs independently from the American operation, which said that it is working to pull down the ads immediately.
“Dunkin’ Doughnuts recognises the insensitivity of this spot and on behalf of our Thailand franchisee and our company, we apologise for any offensive it caused,” Dunkin’ Brands chief communications officer Karen Raskopf said in a statement. “We are working with our franchisee to immediately pull the television spot and to change the campaign.”
On the other hand, the head of Dunkin’ Doughnuts Thailand, Nadim Salhani, was unapologetic when first contacted about the ad.
“We’re not allowed to use black to promote our doughnuts? I don’t get it,” Salhani told the Associated Press. “What’s the big fuss? What if the product was white and I painted someone white, would that be racist?”
Last year, Ashton Kutcher incited anger over a Popchips video in which he wore brown makeup to portray an Indian character.
British cosmetics brand Illamasqua has used blackface as well.
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.