Iconic doughnut brand Krispy Kreme has come under fire over its new campaign that appears to feature a highly offensive racial slur.
The campaign, made by creative agency Abel in collaboration with Limehouse Production, features four spots that aim to make Krispy Kreme doughnuts the star of celebrations like sports events, birthday parties, or major life milestones.
In the short spots, the doughnuts replace the letter “o” in words like “footy”, “movie”, and “hooray”.
But one shows doughnuts popping up to replace the “o” in “congrats”– briefly spelling “c**ngrats” then “c***ngrats”.
The video featuring the offensive slur is no longer available on YouTube, but the other three spots still are. The campaign is also being rolled out across digital platforms, out-of-home advertising, and in-store media.
news.com.au has approached Krispy Kreme for comment on the blunder but is yet to receive a response.
Mumbrella approached Abel to ask whether the gaffe was noticed in production, but it is understood the client is being made aware of the concerns for the apparent slur.
Australia’s advertising watchdog Ad Standards confirmed to news.com.au it has not received any complaints about the campaign yet; but a spokesperson said the body would initiate an investigation if some were submitted.
Anti-racism campaigner Stephen Hagan has hit out at the campaign, calling it “disgraceful” that such a slur slipped through a promotional campaign for the popular brand.
“As the originator of changing the Coon 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,” Dr Hagan told Mumbrella.
Dr Hagan was behind a long-running campaign that led to the rebrand of one of Australia’s most iconic cheese brands to “Cheer” in 2021 amid heightened awareness and concerns about racism.
The former name was inspired by cheese monger Edward William Coon, who developed a technique of ripening cheese known as “cooning” – however Kraft Australia’s Red Coon cheese had nothing to do with that ripening method, or made by Edward Coon or his company.
But the name carries the weight of also being a highly offensive racial slur, which was used in Australia at the time the cheese was introduced in 1931.
Six years after the cheese was handed to Canadian dairy giant Saputo, chief executive officer Lino A Saputo made the polarising 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”.
Now the word has seemingly resurfaced in Krispy Kreme’s bizarre blunder, much to Dr Hagan’s disappointment.
“The word has put my family and my people through so much trauma and it’s just disgraceful to see this happening,” he said.
Krispy Kreme’s campaign encourages Aussies to pick up a box of doughnuts to “sweeten the moment” of major celebrations.
Abel co-founder and creative director Simon Fowler said the agency had “a blast working in collaboration with the talented team at Limehouse” and its “Krispy Klient”.
“Doughnuts aren’t necessarily the first thing people think to bring, so there’s a real opportunity here to prompt awareness of just how much joy a box of Krispy Kreme can bring in some of those much-loved social get-togethers,” he said in a press release.