Thai Dunkin’ Donuts blackface ad withdrawn after allegations of racism in the US

Dunkin Donuts blackface adDunkin’ Donuts has said it will pull an ad campaign in Thailand that a human rights group has called “bizarre and racist” for featuring a woman wearing ‘blackface’ makeup.

Dunkin’ Donuts’ US headquarters has apologised for the ad, which first appeared on the brand’s Facebook page, and has said it would not run in mainstream media.

However, the Thai franchise of the snack chain initially defended it, calling the allegations of racism “absolutely ridiculous”, according to a report in The Guardian newspaper.

“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?” said Nadim Salhani, the CEO of Mudman Company, which operates the Dunkin’ Donuts franchise in Thailand. 

Salhani said that his own daughter was used in the ad, adding that criticism of the ad amounted to “paranoid American thinking”.

“I’m sorry, but this is a marketing campaign and it’s working very well for us,” he said.

The ad for the ‘Charcoal Donut’ features a woman with black face paint, pink lipstick and a beehive hairstyle.

The line by the image reads: “Break every rule of deliciousness.”

Karen Raskopf, the brand’s head of the communications in the US, told the Guardian: “Dunkin’ Donuts recognizes the insensitivity of this spot and 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.”

Raskopf’s comments came after Human Rights Watch said: “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.”

“Dunkin’ Donuts should immediately withdraw this ad, publicly apologize to those it’s offended and ensure this never happens again,” said Phil Robertson, the human rights group’s deputy Asia director..

The Associated Press reported that it is common for advertisers to use racial stereotypes in Thai advertising, pointing to a toothpaste brand that used the tagline “it’s black, but it’s good”. Household mop brand the Black Man has run ads featuring a “smiling black man in a tuxedo and bow tie”, AP reported.


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