Is this Dunkin' Donuts ad from Thailand racist?
An ad for Dunkin' Donuts in Thailand showing a woman with jet black skin and bright pink lips is drawing criticism from the deputy Asia director of Human Rights Watch. Phil Robertson said, "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... [they] should immediately withdraw this ad, publicly apologize to those it's offended and ensure this never happens again." The woman's makeup in the ad is very similar to that used in blackface, commonly seen as a symbol of retrograde racism in America, Europe and other places.
In Thailand, the use of ethnic and racial stereotypes is not at all uncommon, and ads for dark-colored products such as dustpans or toothpaste frequently feature images of black people. The CEO of Thailand Dunkin' Donuts, which operates independently of the American chain, said any criticism of the image is "paranoid American thinking."
"It's absolutely ridiculous," said CEO Nadim Salhani. "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?"
What do you think: Is this ad simply an artistic choice, or something more?