Dunkin’ Donuts on Friday apologized and will pull an advertising campaign running in Thailand that features a model in blackface makeup offering a chocolate doughnut.
Dunkin’ Donuts in Thailand had come under fire Friday for an ad that the Human Rights Watch said was racist.
The ad in question was for Dunkin’s “charcoal donut” and it features a model wearing blackface makeup and bright pink lipstick holding up a bitten doughnut. The translated Thai slogan reads: “Break every rule of deliciousness.”
Karen Raskopf, chief communications officer for Dunkin’ Brands, apologized for the advertising running in Thailand.
“Dunkin’ Donuts recognizes the insensitivity of this spot,” Raskopf said. “On behalf of our Thailand franchisee and our company, we apologize for any offense it caused. We are working with our franchisee to immediately pull the television spot and to change the campaign.”
The marketing effort first drew fire from the Human Rights Watch.
Phil Robertson, deputy director of the Asia division for the group, said it’s “rather incredible that an international company like Dunkin’ Donuts” would run such an ad.
The Associated Press said it’s common in Thailand for marketing to feature racist undertones. A Thai skin whitening cream, for instance, is advertised in television commercials as boosting job prospects for those who use it. According to the AP, the commercials say white-skinned people have a better chance of landing a job than those with dark skin.
There’s also a line of household mops and dust pans sold under the “Black Man” label. Product labeling features a smiling black man in a tuxedo and bow tie.
The apology stands in stark contrast to what the chief executive of Dunkin’s Thailand franchise told the Associated Press.
Nadim Salhani told the AP that criticism of the poster and television spot is just “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?"