Retailing: From Blackface To Redface

From Blackface To Redface

For Colgate-Palmolive, the affair has been an embarrassing reminder that overseas investments must be made with care. In 1985 the Manhattan-based company bought 50% of Hawley & Hazel Chemical, a Hong Kong firm that has long sold a popular toothpaste in Southeast Asia. The only problem: the toothpaste package bore the smiling blackface image of Al Jolson, and the product's name was Darkie.

Last year Colgate-Palmolive's new brand came to the attention of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility, a Manhattan group that works with churches. When it protested to Colgate-Palmolive about Darkie, the firm did nothing to change the product...

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