Krispy Kreme has been under fire after releasing a new campaign containing a highly offensive racial slur.
The campaign, developed by the creative agency Abel in collaboration with Limehouse Production, used the concept of a celebration to sell the iconic doughnuts. The ads encouraged potential buyers to turn to Kristy Kreme doughnuts for birthday parties, sporting events, or other major milestones.
The original ad campaign featured words written in a bubble-letter font against a confetti background. In the video, the doughnuts then replaced the letter “o” in words such as “footy” for a soccer match, “movie” for a movie night, and “hooray”.
However, one of these ads was for the word “congratulations”, which momentarily had an extra o in the word - ultimately spelling out a racial slur. The video of the ad has since been removed from YouTube, while the other three are still available to watch. The campaign is also being rolled out across digital platforms, out-of-home advertising, and in-store media.
In a statement to News.com.au, Krispy Kreme ANZ marketing director Olivia Sutherland issued an apology on behalf of the company. “We never intended to offend any person or group,” Sutherland said. “We are sorry for the oversight and have removed all congratulations-related ads from the campaign.”
According to the outlet, Ad Standards - the company that manages advertising complaint resolution in Australia - has yet to receive any complaints on the ad, but will launch an investigation if any are submitted.
However, some people have already called out both Krispy Kreme and the ad agency for their lack of awareness. Anti-racism campaigner Stephen Hagan criticised the campaign, saying that it is “disgraceful” that such a slur slipped through a promotional campaign for the popular brand.
“As the originator of changing the C**n Cheese brand to Cheer, it’s an absolute disgrace that in 2023, someone thinks they can come up with an… ad like that on a product that is very popular with people of colour,” Hagan told Mumbrella.
The cheddar cheese brand’s name was changed back in 2021, as Hagan was the front-runner behind getting the Australian company to change its name to Cheer, amid heightened awareness and concerns about racism.
The original name was after cheese monger Edward William Coon, who developed a technique of ripening cheese known as “cooning”. However, the word was still considered a racial slur in Australia at the time the cheese hit shelves in 1931.
Six years after the cheese was bought out by Canadian dairy giant Saputo, chief executive officer Lino A Saputo made the controversial decision to rename the cheese to “Cheer,” prompting outraged customers vowing to boycott the brand and declare it was “cancel culture” and “political correctness gone mad,” according to News.com.au.
The offensive term then made its return, this time in the deleted Kripsy Kreme video campaign. “The word has put my family and my people through so much trauma and it’s just disgraceful to see this happening,” Hagan said.
The Independent has contacted Krispy Kreme for comment.