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Dunkin' Donuts Thailand CEO Doesn't Understand "the Big Fuss" Over Blackface Ad

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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Jess Swanson is a staff writer at New Times. Born and raised in Miami, she graduated from the University of Miami’s School of Communication and wrote briefly for the student newspaper until realizing her true calling: pissing off fraternity brothers by reporting about their parties on her crime blog. Especially gifted in jumping rope and solving Rubik’s cubes, she also holds the title for longest stint as an unpaid intern in New Times history. She left the Magic City for New York to earn her master’s degree from Columbia University School of Journalism, where she spent a year profiling circumcised men who were trying to regrow their foreskins for a story that ultimately won the John Horgan Award for Critical Science Journalism. Terrified by pizza rats and arctic temperatures, she quickly returned to her natural habitat.
Contact: Jess Swanson

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