This Happened

Dude, Where’s My Apology? Pop Chips Recants Racist Brownface Ad, But Ashton Kutcher’s Still Silent

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Update: Forbes reports that Pop Chips ran this same campaign in the UK before launching in that market. The British reaction to it was exactly the same and the spot was pulled after public outcry. “The reasoning seems to come straight from Oscar Wilde and P.T. Barnum (if he actually said “there’s no such thing as bad publicity”),” says Forbes. Wonder if that’s the advice Ashton is giving his startups. 

Correction: Just kidding, Pop Chips PR representatives just confirmed to Betabeat that the Forbes report was wrong. The ad went was only released in the U.S. market. The Forbes blogger read the dates wrong, as well as the country. And yes, as you suspected, no one is going to come out of this looking good. Including bloggers!

Yesterday, Pop Chips unveiled its latest advertising campaign. It involved having spokesman Ashton Kutcher play a variety of characters, including an Indian immigrant named “Raj,” for which Mr. Kutcher painted his face brown and affected an over-the-top accent. Last night, shortly after Anil Dash pointed out that using brownface to hawk bags of potato chips in 2012 was a sign of ingrained racism–and criminally cheeseball–Pop Chips founder and CEO Keith Belling issued an apology on the company blog.

“our team worked hard to create a light-hearted parody featuring a variety of characters that was meant to provide a few laughs,” Mr. Belling wrote in all-lower case. “we did not intend to offend anyone. i take full responsibility and apologize to anyone we offended.” Read More