Dunkin’ Donuts apologized over the weekend for an ad from a franchisee in Thailand which includes an image of a woman in what looks like blackface.
“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,” company spokeswoman Karen Raskopf told Yahoo
. “We are working with our franchisee to immediately pull the television spot and to change the campaign.”
The ad, for the new “charcoal donut,” drew fire from organizations including Human Rights Watch, which called it racist and unfortunate.
[RELATED: Ragan's new distance-learning site houses the most comprehensive video training library for corporate communicators.]
Massachusetts-based Dunkin’ Donuts may be running into a sort of cultural wall with the fallout over the ad. Although the corporate spokeswoman immediately denounced the ad, the CEO of the Thailand franchisee group, Nadim Salhani, dismissed criticism of the ad as “paranoid American thinking.”
“We're not allowed to use black to promote our doughnuts?” he asked the Associated Press
last week. “I don't get it. What's the big fuss?”
Andy Karafa, director of the Jim Crow Museum at Ferris State University in Michigan, said he wondered whether the ad was made to specifically evoke minstrel imagery or was created “in a vacuum without the understanding, or the willingness to understand, how it would connect to the history of blackface.”