Dunkin' Donuts apologized Friday for an advertisement that appeared in Thailand for the chain’s chocolate “charcoal donut.”
Posters included a picture of a woman in blackface with bright pink lips holding the new black donut. Beneath the woman is the slogan, “Break every rule of deliciousness."
The Human Rights Watch (HRW) said the image is both “bizarre and racist.”
Dunkin' Donuts chief executive officer in Thailand defended the imagery, maybe because the model on the poster is his daughter. CEO Nadim Salhani told the Associated Press that criticism of the ad was just “paranoid American thinking.”
"It's absolutely ridiculous," Salhani said. "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?"
HRW does not agree and demanded the ad be pulled.
"It's both bizarre and racist that Dunkin' Donuts thinks that it must color a woman's skin black and accentuate her lips with bright pink lipstick to sell a chocolate doughnut," said Phil Robertson, the deputy director for HRW in Asia. "Dunkin' Donuts should immediately withdraw this ad, publicly apologize to those it's offended and ensure this never happens again."
HRW said the campaign would receive “howls of outrage” if Dunkin’ tried to run it in the U.S.
Dunkin’ Donuts told the Guardian Friday that it will pull the imagery from a planned television spot.
"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," Karen Raskopf, chief communications officer for Dunkin' Brands, told the Guardian in a statement. "We are working with our franchisee to immediately pull the television spot and to change the campaign."