Why Colgate Renamed The Popular Toothpaste “Darkie” To “Darlie”

After more than three years of pressure from shareholders, religious groups and blacks, the Colgate-Palmolive Company announced in 1989 that it would rename Darkie, a popular toothpaste that it sells in Asia, and redesign its logotype, a minstrel in blackface.

The company had faced increasing criticism for promoting racial stereotypes through its marketing of the toothpaste, which is a best-selling brand in several Asian countries, after it paid $50 million in 1985 for half-ownership of the Hong Kong company that manufactures it.

Its just plain wrong, Reuben Mark, chairman and chief executive of Colgate-Palmolive, said about the toothpastes name and logotype. Its just offensive. The morally right thing dictated that we must change. What we have to do is find a way to change that is least damaging to the economic interests of our partners.

The company said it would change the name of the toothpaste to Darlie and make the logotype a portrait of a man of ambiguous race wearing a silk top hat, tuxedo and bow tie. Two-Year Changeover Planned

Read More: Colgate to Rename a Toothpaste – NYTimes.com

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