Colgate to review historically racist toothpaste brand Darlie

The company will reportedly "review and evolve" the brand, which was known as Darkie until 1989. Darlie remains popular, especially in mainland China, where its name translates to "black person toothpaste".

Colgate to review historically racist toothpaste brand Darlie

Colgate-Palmolive told Reuters on Thursday (18 June) that it plans to "review and evolve" its popular toothpaste brand Darlie, which was originally known as Darkie until it changed one letter of its name and the tones used on the face of the man featured in its logo in 1989. The brand is popular across Asia, especially in China, where its name translates to "Black person toothpaste".

Colgate's decision follows that of several other companies, which have hastened to move away from branding based on racial stereotypes in recent weeks. Land O' Lakes butter removed a Native American woman from its logo in April.

And this week, as Black Lives Matter protests continue to have an impact on politics and culture, the trend has accelerated. PepsiCo said it would drop Aunt Jemima from the Quaker Oats pancake syrup brand, while Mars announced that its Uncle Ben's rice would evolve its visual identity, which features an African-American man in waiter's clothing.

Colgate-Palmolive produces Darlie through a joint venture established in 1985 with Hawley & Hazel.

"For more than 35 years, we have been working together to evolve the brand, including substantial changes to the name, logo and packaging," a spokeperson said, according to the Reuters report. "We are currently working with our partner to review and further evolve all aspects of the brand, including the brand name."

Euromonitor International says Darlie has a 17% share of the toothpaste market in China, 21% in Singapore, 28% in Malaysia and 45% in Taiwan. In Campaign Asia-Pacific's Asia's Top 1000 Brands report, the brand has fallen from as high as 15th position in 2006 to 233 in 2019.

This article originally appeared in Campaign Asia

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