Published:  09:00 AM, 20 June 2020

Colgate mulls changes to 'Black Person Toothpaste'

Colgate mulls changes to 'Black Person Toothpaste'

Colgate said on Friday it would make further changes to a top-selling Chinese toothpaste whose logo once employed blackface and whose name still translates to "Black Person Toothpaste."

The move is the latest in the growing wave of companies overhauling marketing of household products with racial stereotypes in the wake of the killing of George Floyd, an unarmed African American man, at the hands of police.

The incident has led to mass nationwide protests for racial justice in the United States and some other countries.

The popular Chinese toothpaste brand "Darlie," which was called "Darkie" until 1989, is owned jointly by Colgate-Palmolive and Hawley & Hazel of Hong Kong and also sells well in other Asian markets.

"For more than 35 years, we have been working together to evolve the brand, including substantial changes to the name, logo and packaging," the company said in a statement.

"We are currently working with our partner to review and further evolve all aspects of the brand, including the brand name."

Colgate-Palmolive bought a 50 per cent stake in Hawley & Hazel in 1985 and overhauled the brand four years later, changing the name and removing the image of a man painted in blackface wearing a top hat, an offensive racist trope.

Reuben Mark, who was Colgate-Palmolive's chief executive at the time, described the logo as "just plain wrong," but said the changes needed to be implemented in a way "that is least damaging to the economic interests of our partners," according to a 1989 New York Times story.

The current logo still contains a man in a top hat, but he is meant to be racially ambiguous.

Other companies have been moving quickly to purge offensive brands or their remnants from their product lines.

On Wednesday, PepsiCo said it would end entirely the Aunt Jemima pancake syrup and batter adorned with the face of a black woman, while Mars said it will "evolve" the Uncle Ben's brand of rice dishes that uses a black man as its logo.

Both brands have featured images long criticised as racial stereotypes and slave imagery. - AFP

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