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The Associated Press reports that Human Rights Watch, an advocacy group, has described a "called on Dunkin’ Donuts to withdraw a 'bizarre and racist' advertisement for chocolate doughnuts in Thailand that shows a smiling woman with bright pink lips in blackface makeup. The Dunkin’ Donuts franchise in Thailand launched a campaign earlier this month for its new 'Charcoal Donut' featuring the image, which is reminiscent of 19th and early 20th century American stereotypes for black people that are now considered offensive symbols of a racist era.

"A poster and television commercials show the woman with a shiny jet black, 1950s-style beehive hairdo biting into a black doughnut alongside the slogan: 'Break every rule of deliciousness'."

The story says that the "campaign hasn’t ruffled many in Thailand, where it’s common for advertisements to inexplicably use racial stereotypes," and quotes the CEO for Dunkin’ Donuts in Thailand as saying that the criticism represents “paranoid American thinking.” Nadim Salhani says that "not everybody in the world is paranoid about racism ... I’m sorry, but this is a marketing campaign, and it’s working very well for us."
KC's View:
Maybe it is just me, but I think everybody in the world should be paranoid about racism.

But let's put aside for the moment whether people in the western world should expect Thai culture and business to reflect our values. The real issue has to do with the fact that many businesses - and Dunkin' Donuts has endeavored to be part of this - are now global businesses. Customers in New York are aware of what ads say in Thailand. And so, simple reality suggests that Dunkin' Donuts ought to be more vigilant about this stuff.