As the Black Lives Matter movement continues to gain speed, the topic of casual racism in brand names and logos is also becoming a major point of discussion.
Cereal giant Kellogg’s is the latest brand to be accused of casual racism. The accusation came from a former MP in Britain who questioned why popular breakfast cereal Coco Pops is promoted with a monkey, while Rice Krispies (or Rice Bubbles in Australia), has three white-skinned characters on its box.
The former Labour politician, Fiona Onasanya, called out Kellogg’s on Twitter.
@KelloggsUK, as you are yet to reply to my email – Coco Pops and Rice Krispies have the same compòsition (except for the fact CP's are brown and chocolate flavoured)… so I was wondering why Rice Krispies have three white boys representing the brand and Coco Pops have a monkey?
— Fiona Onasanya (@Fiona_Onasanya) June 15, 2020
In response, Kellogg’s said it supports the black community and agreed it was important discussions are had to improve equality.
“The monkey mascot that appears on both white and milk chocolate Coco Pops, was created in the 1980s to highlight the playful personality of the brand,” the company told Daily Mail UK.
“As part of our ambition to bring fun to the breakfast table, we have a range of characters that we show on our cereal boxes, including tigers, giraffes, crocodiles, elves and a narwhal.
“We do not tolerate discrimination and believe that people of all races, genders, backgrounds, sexual orientation, religions, capabilities and beliefs should be treated with the utmost dignity and respect.”
Meanwhile, Kellogg’s AU posted this show of support on Instagram last week.
However, not everyone agreed with the politician, with a number of people explaining the reasoning behind the name Coco Pops.
One person said: “The monkey is called Coco. Remove the monkey and they are just called pops.”
Another added: “The cacao tree from which cocoa beans and hence cocoa powder is derived is native to the Amazon Basin where there are monkeys.”
Coon Cheese ignites racism debate
Meanwhile, in Australia, comedian Josh Thomas had sparked a fierce debate about the name of iconic Australian cheese brand – Coon.
He took to Twitter with an image of the product alongside the caption: “Hey Australia – are we still chill with this?”
Hey Australia – are we still chill with this? pic.twitter.com/3pY2wyZ3IY
— Josh Thomas (@JoshThomas87) June 14, 2020
His post received over one thousand comments and 230 retweets, with people agreeing and disagreeing with his post.
I’m indigenous and absolutely hate that word. No matter how many meanings it has, teenagers used it with venom in high school.
— cynda (@CysThoughts) June 14, 2020
Internationally famous racist cheese.
I couldn’t believe this was even real when I migrated here..
— D.R. MacDonald (@PirateKiwi74) June 14, 2020
Why do people even care that it was some random cheese guy's name, doesn't the fact that it's insulting as hell to a large group of people override some long dead guy?!
— Christine (@wantsleep) June 14, 2020
If you see a problem with it, that says more about you than anyone else
— Elizabeth (@welosthim) June 14, 2020
However, on Saputo Dairy Australia’s website, owner of Coon Cheese, there is an explanation behind the name.
The company says Coon was named in recognition of “the work of an American, Edward William Coon, who patented a unique ripening process that was used to manufacture the original Coon cheese”.
Colonial Brewing Co faces backlash
Over in WA, independent brewing chain Colonial Brewing Co is also facing backlash and calls to remove its products from shelves.
Based in the Margaret River, the craft beer brand was accused of “creating nostalgia” for a time in history when Indigenous people “were killed en masse”.
However, managing director of the beer brand Lawrence Dowd hit back at the accusations, telling the Today show it wasn’t part of the brand’s narrative “to celebrate colonialism or imperialism, we have been very forward about that”.
While Dowd said the company would consider the feedback, he didn’t think changing the name would make a difference when it came to eradicating racism in Australia.
“I think actions speak louder. It’s what you do in the community and where you create change,” he said.
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