Washington: US snack food maker Popchips has pulled out a new ad campaign featuring Ashton Kutcher, who sports brown makeup and plays a Bollywood producer named “Raj” with a thick accent, after being criticised as racist.
The 88-second video ad has been removed from the California snack food company’s Popchips website and YouTube channel as well as the company’s Facebook page.
The $1.5 million campaign featured Kutcher as four different types of guys looking for love in dating-service style videos: a Brit named Nigel, a Karl Lagerfeld look-alike, a tattooed man named Swordfish and “Raj.”
Raj says that he wants someone “Kardashian hot,” adding, “I would give that dog a bone.” He also talks about competing in a “milking contest.”
Kutcher – as Kutcher – appears at the end of the clip and says to the camera, “Your waiting room is like a freak show… are we all in the same category?”
Indian Americans quickly bashed the ad and Kutcher, with tech entrepreneur Anil Dash calling the ad “a hackneyed, unfunny advertisement featuring Kutcher in brownface talking about his romantic options, with the entire punchline being that he’s doing it in a fake-Indian outfit and voice. That’s it, there’s seriously no other gag.”
The indie hip-hop band Das Racist called out to Kutcher’s Twitter handle: “Hey @aplusk, what’s with the racist brownface video you talentless, pretending to care about sex trafficking piece of s**t?”
The “Two and a Half Men” star has yet to respond to the controversy. The 34-year-old Kutcher was named “president of pop culture” for Popchips in 2010.
Popchips founder and CEO Keith Belling wrote on the company’s website that the company “worked hard to create a lighthearted 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.”