Dunkin’ Donuts hit for Thailand ad

The Dunkin’ Donuts ad in Thailand features a woman in blackface makeup.
Grant Peck/Associated Press
The Dunkin’ Donuts ad in Thailand features a woman in blackface makeup.

BANGKOK — A leading human rights group has 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.’’


Human Rights Watch said it was shocked to see an American brand name running an ad campaign that would draw ‘‘howls of outrage’’ if released in the United States.

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‘‘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 Asia director for Human Rights Watch. ‘‘Dunkin’ Donuts should immediately withdraw this ad, publicly apologize to those it’s offended, and ensure this never happens again.’’

The campaign hasn’t ruffled many in Thailand, where it’s common for advertisements to use racial stereotypes. The CEO for Dunkin’ Donuts in Thailand dismissed the criticism as ‘‘paranoid American thinking.’’

Associated Press