Friday, May 30, 2008
5527: Dunkin’ Donuts And Do Nots.
Hadn’t intended to comment on the Rachael Ray-Dunkin’ Donuts fiasco, as it’s been discussed to death already. For anyone who didn’t hear, hyperreactive bloggers set off a firestorm, flipping over a digital advertisement where Ray was sporting what appeared to be a keffiyeh—a traditional headdress worn by Arab men that some connect with terrorists. Hoping to avoid controversy, Dunkin’ Donuts yanked the work. Unfortunately, the move sparked the type of publicity the advertiser sought to squelch.
The advertising community—via its own blogs and online forums—presented some peculiar perspectives. Of course, the majority slammed the initiating bloggers for their asinine ravings and Republican leanings. But it seemed just as many complained about Dunkin’ Donuts, criticizing the Munchkins® maker for “caving in” to the pressure.
This is not an issue of politics or professionalism. It’s all about bias and racism. It’s about being perceived as having allegiance with a group and culture that lots of Americans hate (to be clear, we’re not talking about terrorists). When you’re dealing with bias and racism, people see what they want to see. The truth doesn’t matter. In these situations, appealing to common sense rarely succeeds.
On the one hand, the irresponsible bloggers should be condemned for playing the “keffiyeh card.” But it would have been foolish for Dunkin’ Donuts to push back—or it certainly wasn’t worth drawing things out. There’s little for an advertiser to “win” in these instances. It’s not like when Ford dismissed the protests of conservative groups complaining about the automaker’s advertising targeting GLBT audiences.
Think of the idiots who went wild over photos of Senator Barack Obama in Somali garb, or the cretins continuing to see satanic images in Procter & Gamble’s logo. Even offers of free coffee and crullers would not transform the lunatic fringe in society.
Yet it’s difficult to understand why some adpeople argued that Dunkin’ Donuts should have stood firm. Are we that clueless about the negative power of bias and racism? Or is it a reflection of the industry’s own staunch resistance to accusations of bias and racism in its ranks?