After using blackface in theater to proliferate racist stereotypes in the early 20th Century, Americans eventually wised up. Eight thousand miles away in the South Pacific, Thailand didn't seem to get that memo. Dunkin' Donuts there released an ad to promote its chocolate donut using blackface.
Human Rights Watch groups and socialized humans everywhere called the racist ad for what it was: racist. And while a contrite apology à la Paula Deen can potentially stop the bad PR drama, Dunkin' Donuts Thailand CEO Nadim Salhani sticks by the ad.
Translated from Thai, the tag line reads "Break every rule of delishness." Well, Dunkin' Donuts, you just did.
"It's absolutely ridiculous," Salhani said in response to the outrage. "We're not allowed to use black to promote our donuts? I don't get it. What's the big fuss?"
With racial stereotypes endorsed in advertisements from skin whitening to cleaning products, Thailand hasn't caught on about the moral indecency and offense such propaganda creates.
While some of that can be attributed to different cultural standards, Dunkin' Donuts is an American company with headquarters in Canton, Massachusetts. As such, even its international advertising campaigns are held to more Western standards. When people saw this ad, they confronted the injustice the most American way possible: through Twitter.
Dunkin' Donuts claimed that it is trying to take down the most hated Thai donut and that it "recognize[s] the insensitivity" of the ad. However, as of this morning, this tweeted apology was not on their Twitter and was apparently deleted from the site's Twitter feed (gotta love screen shots!).
"On behalf of our Thailand franchisee and our company, we apologize for any offense it caused," Karen Raskopf, chief communications officer for Dunkin' Brands, said in a statement.
And yet Dunkin' Donuts Thailand's Salhani still doesn't get it.
"What if the product was white and I painted someone white; would that be racist?" Salhani said.
We don't know; we just hope they don't come out with a new vanilla donut in Thailand anytime soon.
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