‘It’s about accountability’: anti-racism campaigner takes Krispy Kreme ad to Human Rights Commission

Anti-racism campaigner Dr Stephen Hagan has made an official complaint against Krispy Kreme ANZ to the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC), following a campaign that featured a highly-offensive racial slur in August.

The campaign had a spot showing doughnuts replacing the ‘o’ in ‘congrats’, briefly becoming ‘coongrats’ and then ‘cooongrats’.

The spot was quickly removed from YouTube following concerns and Krispy Kreme marketing director Olivia Sutherland confirmed to Mumbrella that all ‘congrats’ related ads would be pulled.

“We never intended to offend any person or group. We are sorry for the oversight and have removed all congratulations-related ads from the campaign,” she said in a statement to Mumbrella at the time.

The AHRC complaint, seen by Mumbrella, cites “racially offensive material” allegedly targeting Dr Hagan “on the internet, including eforums, blogs, social networking sites and video sharing sites”.

“It was because of the ad and subsequent publicity on Krispy Kreme that I started receiving hate mail,” he wrote.

“I believe I have experienced racial hatred…I would like to have a conciliation meeting with the CEO of Krispy Kreme to let him hear of my distress.”

Details about Krispy Kreme’s problematic past were also listed in the complaint, and Dr Hagan asked: “When will Krispy Kreme take notice of red flags being waved to alert it to racially insensitive advertisements?”

Dr Hagan’s complaint to the AHRC also revealed he is seeking “damages from Krispy Kreme of $100,000 for publicly showing the promotional material, in all the circumstances, that offended, insulted, humiliated and intimidated me as a First Nations man of Kullilli and Kooma descent”.

He told Mumbrella the complaint is about accountability.

“This place is riddled with so-called mistakes, and I’m not accepting it,” he said.

“This is no longer a coincidence, I think they need to be accountable for their actions and they ought to get people of colour in their organisation. I’m horrified by the history of the company, which can go all the way back to 1937, and there is no innocence with issues like this.”

Dr Hagan said his successful campaign to change the Coon Cheese brand to Cheer was “distressing, stressful and scary” for him and his family. He said Krispy Kreme has turned the ‘coongrats’ advertisement into his “Coon Cheese 2 reality life.”

“It’s not about money, it’s about accountability,” he concluded.

Mumbrella has contacted Krispy Kreme ANZ for comment about the complaint.


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