The controversial new Popchips commercial with Ashton Kutcher (objectively ) isn’t deliberately racist. However, watching the video, it is dated and unfunny and it’s hard to have any reaction except “Oh dear.” Oh dear no one with any pull flagged the ad during the creative process. Oh dear this went from conception to YouTube, from whence it’s been pulled. Oh dear the company has since issued a “sorry you were offended” non-apology.
The part of the commercial that got the ad pulled is shown in this Today Show piece, examining whether the cries of racism are justified (Lainey Gossip does an outstanding job of concluding the ad is clearly ignorant and reeks of privilege… and Anil Dash explains that pulling the ad ignores the teachable moment). In the ad, Kutcher plays “Raj” a 39-year-old Bollywood movie producer with a questionable accent and mannerisms.
Since the Internet exploded, the company posted the following: “we received a lot of feedback about the dating campaign parody we launched today and appreciate everyone who took the time to share their point of view. our team worked hard to create a light-hearted parody featuring a variety of characters that was meant to provide a few laughs. we did not intend to offend anyone. i take full responsibility and apologize to anyone we offended. – keith belling, founder and ceo of popchips.”
The company said in a statement the commercial was “created to provoke a few laughs and was never intended to stereotype or offend anyone,” and it hopes “people can enjoy this in the spirit it was intended.”
There’s also a longer video, showing more of the parodies from the same commercial.