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?


Anonymous said...

From DD’s POV, the issue of race pertains to the only color they care about: green. They probably freaked thinking of the potential business disruption if they didn’t act.

Seems to me though that this actually presents an opportunity for a new role to be created at brands.

Forget PR damage control after the fact or a legal department approving copy, what about a PC forensic specialist for all ad-related projects?

This person would have a wealth of knowledge when it came to props and images used in marketing efforts and what they really mean.

Think that’s a heart? Nope. Guess again: Gang sign.

Anonymous said...

John F. Kennedy, it was said, never was photographed in any kind of costume because he remembered seeing the picture of Calvin Coolidge in an Indian Headress, the funniest, most ludicrous photo of a President.
Kennedy's example is good for politicians AND their spouses.
Following it, Mrs. Carter would have avoided wearing kimono for a teenage girl when she went with her husband to Japan.
Teddy Roosevelt seemed to avoid laughter despite the fact he was often shot wearing safari gear. Probably because he WAS an outdoorsman and, therefore, it was natural and not phony.
Obama looked silly in Somali mufti even as he looks absolutely perfect wearing suits that are conservative and Wall Street-timeless.
Ronald Reagan was, I thought, the only person capable of wearing a brown suit and getting away with it. Obama's grey suits have not bothered people. But given the idiocy of the times, you can probably expect someone eventually to say: how come he wears the colors of the confederacy every day. What's wrong with blue?

RFB said...

Nice one, guttenplan.

And this was a nice piece, HighJive. You're so ....articulate!

DD "caving" to one well-read blogger, you showed themselves to be weak and favoring one side, in my view. A wave of the hand in a dismissive fashion could have been the option, rather than a dramatized "fight for what's right." No need to "stand firm." Just say, "It's a scarf. Relax."

HighJive said...

Not so sure about that, jetpacks. Again, look at Obama’s Somali garb or P&G’s logo. Saying, “It’s just a traditional outfit,” or “It’s just a moon and stars,” didn’t seem to work. Again, it’s all about racism. Racism is rooted in ignorance. And ignorance is, well, ignorant. Dismissive doesn’t play with dimwits.