DUNKIN DONUT ACCUSED OF RACIST ADVERTISEMENT IN THAILAND – Long gone are the days of the Black and White Minstrel Show, the humble Gollywog and even Robinson’s jam had to remove its famous Gollywog logo for fear to creating racial tensions and of course being branded ‘racist’.
Dunkin Donut has now come under fire from Human Rights Watch after it released an advertising poster and aired TV commercials to promote their new Charcoal Doughnut.
The issue of racism has nothing to do with the fact that Dunkin Donut produced a ‘black’ doughnut but rather because it blackened up a white model.
Human Rights Watch have branded the advertisement offensive, bizarre and racist but it’s likely the Thais will be left shaking their heads wondering what all the fuss is about.
Thailand is a country that views ‘racism’ in a completely different way. The truth, as a Thai sees it, if you are white skinned then you are ‘high-class’.
This perception revolves around the financial ability to refrain from spending too much time in the sun and therefore getting dark – if you have money you must be high-class because you don’t have to work in the rice fields and therefore be subjected to the sun all day long.
Madness? Well that depends on your view point and the distinction in Thailand is that anyone who is dark skinned is poor and therefore low-class and people with dark skin are most often looked down upon by the upper or ‘Hi-So’ classes.
One insider told us;
“I’m a black guy, a Negro if you like, and I often find that Thais look down at me, in a metaphorical way. Whilst my white counterparts have no trouble attracting a lady I am often shunned and even ignored as they perceive I am of the poor working classes and therefore couldn’t possibly have any money.
It really comes down to whether you are rich enough to stay indoors and relax or you have to labour in the rice fields under the hot sun all day to scratch a living.
This perception is changing but Thailand is a strange country and is openly racist towards anyone who is not Thai; in fact their ignorance to other races and cultures leads them to refer to every foreigner as a ‘Farang’; simply because they are unable to distinguish from different nationalities.” Anon
The Dunkin Donut campaign, in Thailand, with its slogan of ‘Break every rule of deliciousness’ while will obviously offend western cultures but many feel the Human Rights Watch really is banging on the wrong door.
Thailand has recently been embroiled in a number of international incidences such as the Fried Chicken fast food outlet that mimicked KFC but instead of Colonel Sanders the face was of Adolf Hitler.
There was also the case of Thailand’s top University that allowed its graduating students to make up and graduation banner with Adolf Hitler – students were even photographed standing along site the banner proudly holding their diplomas whilst giving the Sieg Heil.
There are of course calls that Dunkin Donuts should know better and that such a racist advertising campaign should be pulled and a public apology from the company should be given.
There are of course far worse slights to black people in Thailand, for instance one Thai company produces mops and dustpans for domestic use with the brand name ‘Black Man’. The product even has a mascot of a black man dressed up in a tux and bow tie.
Again, the Thais perception of black people refers to their perceived level of wealth and with it their status within society.
It is certainly not politically correct but Thailand remains a long way behind western values and the value, sanctity and worth of human life. This is prevalent when the CEO Dunkin Donuts (Thailand) Nadim Salhani, gave a statement to the press that openly dismissed the criticism stating;
“It’s absolutely ridiculous. 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?” Nadim Salhani
Mr Salhani did go on to say that the world around Thailand was paranoid about racism and despite some claims that this is racist, only from western corner; the advertising campaign is producing the desired results in creating demand for the product.
Obviously the Dunkin Donut outlets in Thailand are operated under a franchise agreement and the U.S owners of the brand have apologized for any offense this may have caused and that they are working with the franchise owners to pull the campaign.
Despite Dunkin Donut’s response there are many who suspect that the offending advertising will run its course with the Thais caring little, if at all, about any issue of racism and insensitivity.