Agency bosses defend Dunkin’ Donuts ad: ‘the use of black does not equate to racism’

Dunkin Donuts blackface adThe local head of a media agency in Thailand has defended an ad for Dunkin’ Donuts that has been criticised in the US and the UK for being racist.

The ad for the ‘Charcoal Donut’ features a woman with black face paint, pink lipstick and a beehive hairstyle, which a human rights group has called “bizarre and racist” over the weekend.

Dunkin’ Donuts in the US has apologised and said it will pull the campaign.

However, Wannee Ruttanaphon, head of IPG Mediabrands in Thailand, told Mumbrella: “I personally do not think this ad is racist at all.”

“It is fairly obvious that the model is painted black to reflect the nature of the product – and nothing else,” she said.

“It is unreasonable to generalise that simply using black in an ad automatically equates to being racial.”

Ruttanaphon added that the story has not reported in newspapers locally in Thailand.

Paul Grubb, the former creative head at Lowe Thailand, who now runs his own agency Red Pill, added: “I can’t imagine Thais even thinking once that this ad is in anyway intended to be racist.”

“To me it’s either a good idea or a bad idea, nothing more. PC liberalism has gone bonkers,” he said.

“I don’t really notice racial stereotypes used in advertising in Thailand – most advertising here is no more than pretty young models grinning and holding products.”

Their views echo those of Nadim Salhani, the CEO of Mudman Company, which runs the Dunkin’ Donuts franchise in Thailand.

He said: “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 called the response to the ad in the US “paranoid American thinking.”


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