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Dunkin' Donuts Criticised For 'Racist' Advert Campaign

30/08/2013 18:13 BST | Updated 30/08/2013 18:14 BST

Dunkin' Donuts has been urged by human rights groups to withdraw a "bizarre and racist" advertisement for doughnuts.

The franchise in Thailand launched a campaign earlier this month for its new "Charcoal Donut" featuring the controversial advert – which shows a smiling woman with bright pink lips and her face painted black.

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A leading human rights group has called on Dunkin' Donuts to withdraw the "bizarre and racist" advertisement

But the chain's Thai CEO, Nadim Salhani, dismissed the criticism as "paranoid American thinking" and called it "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?"

The Associated Press said it's common in Thailand for marketing to feature racist undertones.

However outraged campaigners have said the image is reminiscent of 19th and early 20th century American stereotypes for black people.

Human Rights Watch said it was shocked to see an American brand name running an advertising campaign that would draw "howls of outrage" if released in the United States.

"It's both bizarre and racist that Dunkin' Donuts thinks that it must colour a woman's skin black and accentuate her lips with bright pink lipstick to sell a chocolate doughnut," said Phil Robertson, the deputy Asia director for Human Rights Watch.

"Dunkin' Donuts should immediately withdraw this ad, publicly apologise to those it's offended and ensure this never happens again."

However, Salhani said that doughnut sales have increased actually about 50% since the campaign was launched around two weeks ago, which he attributed to curiosity about the new advertisements.