BEHIND THE HEADLINES: Golly axe turns focus onto corporate identities

Tea firm Typhoo consulted the Commision for Racial Equality before

scrapping its Two Thumbs Fresh ad campaign, it emerged this week.

The news comes just a week after jam company Robertson's announced it

was to scrap its long-serving cartoon character Golly the golliwog

following years of pressure from anti-racism campaigners.

While the passing of Golly represents a victory for critics of the

controversial emblem, campaigners are taking it as their cue to focus on

other corporate identities they consider unsuitable.

While spokespeople for Robertson's refused to add to news that the

company is to ditch its long-time mascot, a CRE spokesperson confirmed

it had been consulted over the decision to remove the character from

jars, and conceded that 'other companies have approached us with

concerns along similar lines'.

The body would not disclose either the names or the number of firms to

have sought its guidance, but many such consumer goods firms are thought

to have faced similar problems in recent years.

Specifically, earlier this year Typhoo abandoned its Two Thumbs Fresh

campaign, which was roundly criticised for its representation of Indian

plantation workers, and even sparked condemnation from the Broadcasting

Standards Commission.

The company's group marketing director Ivor Harrison admitted the firm

was aware of the criticism and that the CRE had been consulted, but

insisted the discontinuation of the campaign, which had been checked by

the Advertising Standards Authority, was unrelated to the concerns.

Robertson's removal of the 91-year-old Golly motif - to be replaced by

Quentin Blake's drawings of characters from Roald Dahl's children's

books - and abandonment of the line of collectable Golly badges have

been planned for some time.

The CRE this week claimed to have been consulted 'on more than one

occasion during the past four or five years'.

The National Assembly against Racism's spokesman Dennis Fernando drew a

distinction between stereotyping cultures in promotions and what he

perceives as overtly offensive objects: 'The golliwog was offensive as

it is a term racists use in abuse - there's a link between the character

and the rhetoric of the far right. You have to ask: "What market does it

appeal to?," as it certainly isn't the ethnic minority market.'

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