Dunkin' Donuts has apologised for the "insensitivity" of an advertising campaign in Thailand which has been slammed by human rights groups.
The controversial advert, featuring a woman with bright pink lips and her face painted black, was being used to promote a new chocolate flavoured doughnut.
The Dunkin' Donuts franchise in Thailand came under fire after Human Rights Watch demanded the brand withdraw the "bizarre and racist" advertisement.
The company's chief executive in Thailand initially defended the campaign but the US headquarters quickly followed up with an apology.
A leading human rights group called on Dunkin' Donuts to withdraw the "bizarre and racist" advertisement
"We are working with our Thailand franchisee to immediately pull the ad. DD recognises the insensitivity of this spot," Dunkin' Donuts said in post on its official US website.
Outraged campaigners said the image was 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."
Dunkin' Donuts came under fire from human rights groups over the advert
Before the apology was issued by Dunkin' Donuts headquarters, the company's chief executive in Thailand dismissed the criticism as "paranoid American thinking."
"It's absolutely ridiculous," the CEO Nadim Salhani said to The Associated Press.
"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?"