Masterfoods drops 'racist' Galaxy ice cream poster ads

LONDON - Masterfoods has been forced to pull a nationwide, outdoor advertising campaign of almost 2,000 posters for its Galaxy ice cream tub range after it was condemned as 'racist' by ethnic campaigners.

The food giant has now agreed to take down all of the posters featuring the creative by the end of the week after receiving a complaint from campaign group Operation Black Vote yesterday.

Operation Black Vote was critical of the posters for using the words from the nursery rhyme "eeny, meeny, miney, mo" next to four spoons, as the words are from a nursery rhyme, which in some versions is followed by the line "catch a nigger by his toe, if he squeals let him go, eeny, meeny, miney, mo".

Masterfoods external affairs manager Aileen McLaughlin, said campaign was about showing the choice on offer in the new Galaxy range.

"The central focus was intended to indicate the choice of what side of the spoon to use. Obviously we never intended to cause offence," she said.

A spokeswoman for Grey London, which was behind the creative, declined to comment. The campaign, which only involved outdoor advertising, used the line, "think chocolate, think chilled, think Galaxy ice cream".

Operation Black Vote director Simon Woolley said he told Masterfoods that if it kept the adverts up the group would alert those on its 50,000 strong database to boycott the brand. Legal action was also an option the group was considering.

"When I saw the poster I thought it was extremely offensive. I told them that I understand that it wasn't done with malice but they should have been aware of the offence it can cause," said Woolley.

Woolley added that he believed the failure of Grey and Masterfoods to realise the offence it could cause, showed, "just how predominantly white the adverting industry is".

However, earlier this year an audit by the Institute of Practioners in Advertising and Extreme Media found that the use of actors from ethnic minorities in campaigns is rising. In January 2003 just 2% of campaigns featured ethnic minority actors but this rose to 7% in November.

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