Racist Doughnut Ad? Dunkin Donuts Comes Under Fire For Sketchy Advertising

August 31, 2013  |  

Dunkin’ Donuts Thai Facebook

Are people extremely sensitive these days or is this really a racist doughnut ad?

A human rights group has made Dunkin’ Donuts, the popular doughnut chain, their new target after an ad promoting a new flavor popped up.

The “charcoal donut” is one of the new flavors in Dunkin’ Donuts Thailand and the ad features a woman painted in all black with bright pink lips. The ad allegedly reminds people of the stereotypes placed on black people in terms of looks many years ago. Human Rights Watch deputy Asia director Phil Robertson says it was shocked to see the ad considering Dunkin’ is based in America:

“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.  Dunkin’ Donuts should immediately withdraw this ad, publicly apologize to those it’s offended and ensure this never happens again.”

Although Dunkin’ Donuts Thailand operates independently of the U.S. properties, Karen Raskopf, chief communications officer for Dunkin’ Brands, says they do recognize the problem. In a statement to MSNBC, Raskopf said:

“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. We are working with our franchisee to immediately pull the television spot and to change the campaign.”

But while it appears the powers that be over at Dunkin’ Donuts want the ad to come down, the CEO of the Thai location says he doesn’t see the problem at all and charged the drama to “paranoid American thinking.”

“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? I’m sorry, but this is a marketing campaign and it’s working very well for us.”

Salhani, who says it was his daughter who was used as the model, says that not everyone in the world is paranoid about race and the marketing campaign has worked very well for them.

It hasn’t. In fact, according to The Associated Press, no one in Thailand is concerned about the ad at all.

So what do you think? Is this a racist doughnut ad or are people just being overly sensitive?

Trending on MadameNoire

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  • atlasshrugged2u

    How the hell is the doughnut ad racist?
    This calling everything racist is f*cking out of control!
    It’s art, media, entertainment, C’mon people please!

  • Tony Williams

    THIS IS SO RACIST. your brain explodes and just deal with it. i think this is racist yes yes yes.

  • darkandlovely

    Call me crazy but I see no racism in this picture. Call me even crazier but the artistic take on the image is actually beautiful. She looks like a sculpture.

  • Ashbashmomashly

    I do not think it is racist. Not every society has the history of America. I do not see them mocking African Americans or even referring to them anywhere any here. I think we are just being sensitive.

  • dailylifeandliving.blogspot.co

    Some people just want controversy…I guess the new line will no longer be “Sex sells” but “Controversy sells” or “Racism sells.”

  • mono

    This ad would not be a problem if they used Alek wek and I guarantee it would be beautiful

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  • Frenchie Love ANΞ©

    People have to understand that while the world knows African-Americans were subjected to many forms of racism, not everyone know those types and forms. What we know as Black Face is just advertising for another country. We cannot assume people from Thailand know/knew that the advertising would be offensive to African Americans here. And lets be honest, if it weren’t not seen by the Human Rights Watch deputy, most African Americans wouldn’t even know the ad existed. I love coffee, and Dunkin is one of my primary places to go, had I not been on Madame Noire today and saw this article, I doubt I would even know the ad existed. Was it a mistake, yes; racist, no. I sometimes think African Americans blow these things out of proportion.

  • BiBi

    Black people in America are ridiculously sensitive at times, and this is one of them…and I’m black. It’s not always about you. Yeah, I said it.

    • lashon123

      you can say that sh#T again

    • Faith

      It is all about blacks being ridiculed all the times and these businesses as well as individuals need to stop it.

  • Shawndrea Rachelle

    What a creepy ad. Especially for something sweet and cute like a donut

  • Patricia

    I have never seen so many busnesses just refused to learn the lesson about racist advertising or comments that degrade blacks.. I don’t know what is it going to take for them to stop. People need to use the little of a brain that they to think before doing stuff like this. The only thing these busnesses understand is the color green. Money. Stop supporting them stupid business use do stuff like this.

  • Cynthia Robinson

    It’s a darn donut for the love….people, lighten the heck up. It’s not black face it’s a donut and it looks like it would be delicious.

  • Sunshinegirl

    If I’m being honest, I’m Black, and I don’t see it as racist because they are not trying to depict a Black person with racial undertones. They are selling freaking doughnuts! I think by now, that we’ve all experienced racism in some form and know when someone is coming for us and when they aren’t. Now, with that being said, I think that it was a very risque campaign and in poor taste for them to select this artwork because it could be associated with racial undertones simply from things that were done in the past. Another thing….. it’s Thailand not America. Americans know better than this sh**.

  • priceless

    I think it’s in the lips πŸ™‚ lol, I see the ad as artistic but the faux-pas was in the lips, this gives the stereotype image of black people. I am not offended, but not happy either it’s simply a narrow minded image πŸ™‚

  • stewie

    i wonder if he’d be ok with a rice donut featuring a black person pulling his eyes back and saying “me love it long time”?

    • Bits


    • Bits


  • kickash

    I’m not mad about it I’m just confused about why it’s called a charcoal donut. That doesn’t even sound appealing.


    You think people would be aware of the history attached to the tradition of Black Face by now. It may not be racist, but it is most definitely ignorant.

    • Angela

      Hello people the world does not revolve around America! So why people act surprised when other countries do not know about OUR history.

  • tiredofit

    This is stupid….

    Like they said, if the woman was painted white with the doughnut having white cream, it wouldn’t be an issue to anyone, just art.

    So dumb…

  • marissa

    Someone had to have dug this one up somewhere for Americans to even see it. Rabblerousers….thats all i can say

  • enlightenment

    Just wondering….how would THEY react if the U.S. created a new product called “The Rice Cake Munchkin” and we had a black woman stretching her eye out on the ad to mock their chinky eyes? It’s the same thing. They had the same train of thought. “Hey, here we have this charcoal donut, lets imitate black people for the ad because they’re dark, and blacken up an Asian model.” Although it’s not racist, it’s just friggin weird.

    • Jessica2248

      they would first have to hate the way they look, in order for that to work. lots of people think “chinky eyes” are beautiful, just like dark skin is beautiful.

      • enlightenment

        Well you see the problem here is…calling a beautiful dark skin woman “charcoal” isn’t a compliment, is it? If it was a new chocolate doughnut or hazelnut cream….idk, something that doesn’t have a negative connotation like “charcoal”, it would be a lot less—strange.

        • Jessica2248

          When you put it that way,I see your point!

    • jaleeka

      Okay does anyone NOT notice that model is Indian not Thai? Of course not. Everyone else in the world is not caught up on race like we are. I do not know why they could not have used a non painted model to sell the donut or just gotten a black woman (yes black women are there ) to model for it.

  • WISE1

    @CKB said it best. What if we used a racist Asian marketing ad? They would be upset. Its clear this should be taken down. The comments posted here are all good opinions but they are missing the principal of it all..

  • KJ23

    I feel as though if it happened in America it would have most definitely been racist, but I don’t think Thailand is as knowledgable about our past. The same way how we might not be completely keen to what their past has been.

  • bluekissess

    People have become sensitive. I don’t see the harm in the ad. I might have a change of heart if I see a commercial. I think it probably could’ve been better.

  • samiannie

    I think people need to work on getting thicker skin.

  • E.

    I don’t feel offended at all.

  • blackdolphin

    This is a totally different country. What say do we (Americans) have in their advertising? NONE!! Dunkin has a CEO in Thailand, who seems to be OK with this. WE don’t live there! Focus on the racism of this country…….

    • Angela

      Amen. The problem is most of these idiots did not read the article before commenting.

  • CKB

    Just so long as in Thailand, they don’t get upset if we use an image of them that they find offensive in an ad for something here, ………………………. . think everyone knows where I’m going with this.

    • hollyw

      That what I just said. Just last year, Victoria Secret had to pull thai-themed lingerie from their “international” line to appease these guys, but now we doin too much..? Oh ok.

      • Kara Niranjana

        That’s exactly what I thought of!!

      • Janita

        Victoria Secret also offended Africans in that ad. I guess you were okay with that though huh?

        • hollyw

          Tell me anything that would have to do with the specific example of racism in this article first.

  • Papillon

    I’m not personally offended, but a charcoal donut sounds disgusting. (yes, i know it’s not literally charcoal).

    • Jessica2248

      it doesn’t sound too appealing does it? lol!

    • Trisha_B

      Charcoal doughnut sounds gross! Like its gonna be bitter or something lol….but other than that, whats the issue? Stop being so dang sensitive, its annoying. If she was holding a piece of chicken & saying “love that chicken from popeyes!” I would understand the racism. But its a dang doughnut. They showing the richness of black/dark

      • Jessica2248

        eating Popeyes chicken is racist? well, i’m guilty! lol!

        • Trisha_B

          Lmao no! I just had some the other day lol…I’m saying if she was doing something stereotypical in the pic (you know they say black people love fried chicken lol) w/ the black face, I would understand the cry of racism

  • laksh

    from my perspective, I do not see the where the problem resides. If a black woman was used for this add people could have reacted differently, but what the heck, they colored an asian girl and in no where they where trying to portrait any blackface or funny thing, so what, she has pink lipstick, see the beauty in the add, it’s an art portrait and not degrading.
    People really need to cool off a bit.

    • angela

      The girl in the ad is not Asian. She is Indian.

      • hiswomanandlovingit

        Indians are considered Asian.

        • angela

          I KNOW that smarty pants! The country in question is Thailand and the executive that gave it the green light is of Indian descent. Why are you lumping all of them together! Address the individual not the whole group.

          • hiswomanandlovingit

            what does that have to do with what you said? you said the the woman was indian not asian. i merely corrected you in that people from the country india are considered asian. now if you meant to say that she wasnt thai but indian then that would have been a different conversation. *shrug* have a good day.

          • atlasshrugged2u

            Calm the f*ck down lol she didn’t mean anything by it lol!

    • ebby

      i agree. if it was gold doughnut they would have probably colored her skin gold. charcoal is black so it makes sense. people are being too sensitive.


    I’ve been to Thailand twice and they are right in saying..it is paranoid american thinking. Each time I was walking through the streets with other crew members who were black men and the women call out to them “HEY CHOCOLATE!”. THEY CALL BLACKS..CHOCOLATE! IT’S NOT MEANT TO BE DEROGATORY AT ALL. FROM THEIR PERSPECTIVE THIS ADD IS REALLY A DELICIOUS COMPLIMENT. I GUESS IF YOU’VE NEVER TRAVELED OUTSIDE THE US..YOUR PERSPECTIVE MIGHT BE DIFFERENT?

    • Von Carr

      Oh hell yeah the women of Thailand can call me Chocolate any time ha ha ha

      • chanela

        Yes, the ones that you THINK are women. Lol

        • Von Carr

          I would be spoiled rotten over there lol

        • atlasshrugged2u

          Good one…lol
          I believe they call them “lady boys”

    • Fair and Balanced

      I agree with you I have traveled a great deal and to others outside of this country race relations is ridiculous as they cannot see what the problem is. This is not to say that there are not racial ignorance in other countries it just seems to be so prevalent here in America. Who knows, bottom line don’t let the ignorance of others define who you are that includes both ignorant Caucasians and ignorant Blacks as well as others.

    • atlasshrugged2u


  • Jessica2248

    dumb idea….yes! not everyone is an artist! racism….no. call me what you will, but i don’t associate black or dark as always being something negative.

    • Von Carr

      I am like you sweety I don’t do the racism thing and for the one’s I encounter that try to be that way I do understand that there ignorant and just do know any better, I love people no matter who you are or what color you may be.

      • Jessica2248

        you have my father’s name! kinfolk!! lol!

        • Von Carr

          Your kidding lol

          • Jessica2248

            His name was Bruce L. Carr, Sr. You have relatives in AL?

            • Von Carr

              The family originated in Bryan,Texas up near collage Station the family has spread out over Texas and all up north. hay if you like you can connect with me on Facebook just look me up under my name all so I am in Houston,Texas so that way you know it’s me

    • atlasshrugged2u

      Thank you!

  • word

    I think because of the strained past (and present) of African Americans, they have become very defensive of anything that ‘smells’ racist…..As someone from the diaspora, from a country that doesn’t share this history…I need blatant racism to be affected…job victimization, being heckled etc….’black face’, white people singing the n-word in a song, miley cyrus (hahahaha)..really doesn’t affect me, light ‘tasteful jokes’ (and pretend to not know what I mean) about slavery….we are an interesting demographic we need to embrace that, not be sensitive about it….just my two cents.

    • atlasshrugged2u

      I fully and totally agree. We need to lighten up πŸ™‚

  • Kittenatl

    What prompt them to use black face to advertise? Is it to stir up trouble for race relations? Or boost sales? Whatever the cause maybe, they lack integrity and I won’t spend another dime at Dunkin…

    • hollyw

      I totally agree. Folks baffle me who think everyone else in the world is ignorant of American race relations, or won’t use it for marketing. What, just cuz they’re Asian?! Smh wake up people.

      • Lisa

        It was Japanese themed.

        • hollyw

          My bad. You get my point though, right lol..?

          Americans are held to the highest standard due to our diversity of cultures, that the rest of the world just doesn’t have to have.

          • Lisa

            Yes because THEY do not have the diversity that we do. A lot of these countries have extremely small populations of other races. Also THEY do not have our history so why everyone gets bent out of shape I do not understand. Americans need to understand the world does not revolve around us.

            • hollyw

              One, Ignorance is no excuse for ‘accidental’ racism. Two, the U. S., in all of its glory and shortcomings, is much more widely known throughout the world than we know theirs, so they’d actually have less excuse than we would as far as exposure goes. Yet and still, we strive to stay p.c. Third, racism and all other effects of colonialism did not (and is still not) just affect the U.S. The effects of colonialism were worldwide, and EVERY country needs to be knowledgeable and sensitive to that fact, not just us. Point-blank, If they want to profit from an American-established business, they and everyone else needs to respect those American cultural aspects, or else found their own franchise. Then they can do whatever they want!

            • atlasshrugged2u

              Couldn’t have said it better myself!