In Thailand, Dunkin Donuts ran a controversial advertisement for its charcoal donut back in 2013. The charcoal donut is a chocolate donut covered in a chocolate glaze. The advertisement depicts a a smiling woman holding up a very black donut in blackface make-up with bright pink lipstick and a 1950s beehive hairstyle (Gabbatt, 2013). The slogan in the image is translated into “Break every rule of deliciousness” from Thai (Gabbatt 2013).
The issue in the Dunkin Donut advertisement is the depiction of race, colour and gender to promote the product. The advertisement shows a woman in blackface makeup that was very popular in America in the mid to late nineteenth century to depict African-American slaves on minstrel shows (Desmond-Harris, 2014). White actors would use grease paint to portray dehumanizing and racist caricatures of African-American slaves in a racist United States of America (Desmond-Harris, 2014). This was done to further reinforce the idea that African-Americans at the time were inferior to White Americans (Desmond-Harris, 2014). Furthermore, the advertisement’s use of the word “charcoal” to describe a chocolate donut and against a backdrop of a woman in racist make-up was ill-advised. To describe a chocolate donut as “charcoal” is misleading and having a woman in blackface makeup which already has racist history attached to it, further pushes the notion that black as a colour is impure and dirty. This advertisement would be considered the most recent contemporary use of blackface in the media. Lastly, the pink lips and the bare shoulders could represent the constant over-sexualization of women in the mainstream media.
In my jammed ad, I replaced the woman with the 1950s hairstyle, bright pink lips and the blackface make-up with an Asian woman in her natural look, although she does seem to have minimal make-up. The Asian woman is holding up a chocolate donut, and I removed the words “charcoal donut” and replaced it with the words “chocolate donut”.
The jammed advertisement is much more acceptable than the original advertisement because there isn’t a woman in racist make-up. I chose to use an Asian woman in my jammed advertisement because the original advertisement was used to market a food item in Thailand, which is an Asian country. To use an Asian to market the product would be more culturally appropriate, although having a Caucasian or African-American post next to the product could still be very acceptable. However, to appeal to the target market more, I thought using an Asian woman would be more effective. The donut in the advertisement looks more like the chocolate donut in chocolate glaze that is sold (or was being sold) in Thailand and looks more edible and delicious. Lastly, the Asian woman in the jammed advertisement is not overly-sexualized with bright pink lips and bare shoulders. Instead, the Asian woman is smiling nicely into the camera with lips that looks more natural and akin to Asian women and is sporting a white tank top.
Desmond-Harris, J. (2014, Oct 29). Don’t get what’s wrong with blackface? Here’s why it’s so offensive. Retrieved from https://www.vox.com/2014/10/29/7089591/dont-get-whats-wrong-with-blackface-heres-why-its-so-offensive
Gabbatt, A. (2013, Aug 30). Dunkin Donuts apologizes for ‘bizarre and racist’ Thai advert. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/aug/30/dunkin-donuts-racist-thai-advert-blackface