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Report Says Colgate to Rename ‘Darkie’ Toothpaste Sold in Asia

January 27, 1989 GMT

NEW YORK (AP) _ Under pressure from several groups, Colgate-Palmolive Co. plans to rename Darkie, a toothpaste it sells in Asia, and redesign the logotype that shows a minstrel in blackface, it was reported.

The New York Times said in today’s editions the company planned to change the name of the toothpaste to Darlie and make the logotype a portrait of a man of ambiguous race wearing a silk top hat, tuxedo and bow tie.

Colgate-Palmolive has faced increasing criticism from shareholders, religious groups and blacks for promoting racial stereotypes through its marketing of the toothpaste, the newspaper said.

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Colgate-Palmolive had paid $50 million in 1985 for half-ownership of the Hong Kong company that manufactures the toothpaste, which is a best-selling brand in several Asian countries.

″It’s just plain wrong,″ said Reuben Mark, the chairman and chief executive of Colgate-Palmolive, referring to the toothpaste’s name and logotype.

″It’s just offensive. The morally right thing dictated that we must change. What we have to do is find a way to change that is the least damaging to the economic interests of our partners,″ he told the newspaper.

The company said the name would be changed over the next year and the logotype will be replaced the following year. The gradual switch is designed to reduce confusion and avoid lost sales, the newspaper said.

It said that Colgate-Palmolive agreed to pay for the redesign, repackaging and advertising costs and would reimburse Hawley & Hazel, the manufacturer that started the toothpaste in the 1920s, for any lost profits resulting from the change.

The toothpaste is sold in Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan and Thailand but is not available in the United States, the story said.

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