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After initially standing by a new ad featuring Ashton Kutcher in brownface, acting as a send-up of an Indian Bollywood producer, popchips has pulled the spot and apologized.
“We received a lot feedback about the dating campaign parody we launched today and appreciate everyone who took the time to share their point of view,” Keith Belling, the founder and CEO of the company, wrote in a note posted on the company’s website. “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.”
Earlier on Thursday, in a statement given to The Hollywood Reporter, a popchips spokesperson said that the advertisement — one of four spots that features Kutcher as different characters, each in a dating video — should be enjoyed with good humor.
“The new popchips worldwide dating video and ad campaign featuring four characters was created to provoke a few laughs and was never intended to stereotype or offend anyone,” the rep wrote. “At popchips we embrace all types of shapes, flavors and colors, and appreciate all snackers, no matter their race or ethnicity. We hope people can enjoy this in the spirit it was intended.”
The rep for popchips also noted that the ads are not running on television, and were intended as “a fun online campaign.”
The ad has been slammed by numerous commentators, including tech blogger Anil Dash, who sent out a series of critical tweets, beginning with, “Hey, startups that are helping @aplusk get richer, can you tell him that racist brownface ads aren’t cool? Thanks!”
Kutcher’s Twitter handle is @aplusk.
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