Dunkin’ Donuts Apologizes for Blackface Ad, but Not Everyone Is Sorry

'What's the big fuss?' asks the franchisee

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Dunkin' Donuts in Thailand has just seen a 50 percent bump in sales on the heels of a new print, TV and Facebook ad campaign, and the CEO of the local franchise is crowing about the sugar rush. So what if it's all because of a controversial ad?

No, really, CEO Nadim Salhani says—so what? The ad in question shows a smiling woman in blackface with bright-pink lipstick holding the chain's new "charcoal donut." Predictably, this is kicking up a fury—outside its target region—though Salhani says that's just "paranoid American thinking." Salhani, whose teenage daughter is the model in the ad, further asks the Associated Press: "We're not allowed to use black to promote our donuts? 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?"

Dunkin' Donuts in the U.S. sees the situation differently, posting an apology on its website and promising a swift takedown due to the campaign's "insensitivity." Human Rights Watch called the ad "bizarre and racist." There's no word on whether Salhani, a surefire candidate in his own mind for father and marketer of the year, is still employed.

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@TLStanleyLA terry.stanley@adweek.com T.L. Stanley is a senior editor at Adweek, where she specializes in consumer trends, cannabis marketing, meat alternatives, pop culture, challenger brands and creativity.