Dunkin' Donuts is worried America will run from Dunkin' over a controversial ad by its Thai franchise. The ad—which has run in print, on TV, and on the web—features a woman in blackface makeup to promote Thai outlets' new chocolate-flavored "Charcoal Donut," the AP reports. The New York-based group Human Rights Watch denounced the ad as "both bizarre and racist" and called on Dunkin' for its immediate withdrawal. The company says it is trying. "We are working with our Thailand franchisee to immediately pull the ad. DD recognizes the insensitivity of this spot," the company repeatedly tweeted to those complaining on Twitter.
But the company's CEO in Thailand says the criticism is just "paranoid American thinking." "It's absolutely ridiculous," says Nadim Salhani. "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 unexpected kicker: the model featured in the ad campaign is none other than Salhani's daughter, reports the Guardian. "I'm sorry," he says, "but this is a marketing campaign and it's working very well for us." (Read more Dunkin' Donuts stories.)