The fight against racism is not indifferent to any industry at this time. In order to combat discrimination and stereotypes, there are many organizations that have chosen to address the issue institutionally and systemically.
(Also read: Criticism of an exclusive clothing store in Cartagena for alleged racist advertising).
Such is the case of companies such as Nestlé, Clorox, PepsiCo, Adidas and Gucci, which, after being involved in scandals and accusations of racism, had to say goodbye to some iconic characters, renew their image and even remove items from the market.
The death of George Floyd, in the United States, unleashed a wave of protests, indignation, and reflection that spread to many parts of the world in 2020. The shock was such that, seeking to combat stereotypes, discrimination, and racism, , many brands decided to transform their image. Such was the case with Nestlé.
The Swiss multinational food company reported that it would change both the image and the name of ‘Beso de negra’, one of the sweets closest to Colombian culture. In this way, he showed his commitment to the elimination of racial stereotypes.
(Keep reading: The ‘Dilbert’ comic is canceled in newspapers due to racist comments by its author.)
“We reviewed our portfolio and took immediate action to change or discontinue some products that use inappropriate words or images. One of the ones that will have changes is Black Kiss,” the company told ‘CNN’ at the time.
The product went from being called ‘Kiss of black’ and from having an Afro-descendant woman as an image, to being named ‘Kiss of love’ and have the graphic representation of a sweet stuffed with marshmallow and covered in chocolate.
Like Nestlé, Clorox also joined the global outcry against racism that erupted after the murder of African-American George Floyd. How? Well, the American manufacturer and marketer decided to say goodbye to the character of ‘Blanquita’, who for many years was the image of the product and the star protagonist of commercials in the 90s.
In a statement, to which ‘CNN’ had access, Clorox said it was “deeply engaged in the important work of confronting racism, conscious and unconscious.” And, consequently, he would withdraw the image of ‘Blanquita’.
(Of interest: Video: the cruel racist attacks of a woman against Latina in the United States).
For Alejandro Bohórquez Keeney, a specialist in politics and international relations, this was a discriminatory character, as he represented black women as figures of service. His message, basically, was that they should be happy dedicating themselves to housework related to cleaning, cooking and caring for the children.
“Although they want to show it in a subtle way, the content is racist, ‘Blanquita’ has been a character with a strong influence that goes beyond a cleaning utensil that has remained strong and is still remembered,” Bohórquez explained in dialogue with the aforementioned television channel.
Aunt Jemima was, until a few years ago, one of the most famous trademarks throughout the world. Until PepsiCo, its parent company, decided it wasn’t going anymore.
In addition to the name, the American multinational decided to transform the image, since the previous one reinforced the racist stereotype. As happened with ‘Blanquita’, ‘Aunt Jemima’ was accused of having a close and intentional relationship with the mammies, black nannies from the south dedicated to taking care of the children of their masters.
In this regard, the vice president of Quaker Foods North America, Kristin Kroepfl, pronounced: “As we work to make progress towards racial equality through various initiatives, we must also closely examine our portfolio of brands and ensure that they reflect our values” .
It was finally in the year 2021 that Aunt Jemima disappeared to make way for the Pearl Milling Company. The new logo replaces the previous image with what appears to be a 19th century watermill, formerly used to grind flour. Of course, the color red, white and yellow still predominates.
They also like to point out the cancellation of Aunt Jemima, which is so incredibly canceled that it successfully exists to this day as The Pearl Milling Company. pic.twitter.com/fL5xIXOCrf
—Brian Jay Jones (@brianjayjones) April 20, 2023
Adidas and Gucci
With the aim of commemorating Black History Month, Adidas decided to release some sneakers on the market in 2019. The launch of the sports shoes did not go down well with customers and users on social networks for a particular reason: their design was completely white with small red and black details.
The brand was criticized by hundreds of people, as they argued that there was a contradiction between the date they wanted to commemorate and the color of the shoes. Given the poor reception of the sports shoes, Adidas had to withdraw the item from the collection and issue a statement.
In the public statement, the multinational acknowledged that the white design “did not reflect the spirit or philosophy associated with the Black History Month celebrations.” And, immediately afterwards, he removed the product from the line.
Gucci experienced a similar situation, when it launched a controversial sweater on the market that was branded as racist. The garment, which was part of the Autumn-Winter 2018 collection, was black in color and had a built-in balaclava, as well as an opening in the mouth decorated with red lips.
“We are fully committed to increasing diversity throughout our organization and turning this incident into a powerful learning moment for the Gucci team,” the company said at the time, regarding the allegations.
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