An Australian gelato company has suspended a member of its social media team and publicly apologised for posting what it says was a careless and insensitive caption about “blackface” over the weekend.
N2 Extreme Gelato posted a photo of their new “honey charcoal vanilla” flavour on their Facebook page on Saturday, with the caption: “Is it still considered blackface if it’s just on your hand??? Anyway it’s just spilt carbon so calm yo tits with our HONEY CHARCOAL VANILLA gelato! (Carbon dusting not included)”
The company, which has stores in Melbourne, Sydney, Newtown, Fitzroy and Paris, is known for its playful Facebook promos of new flavours. A post from May 9 says: “Deep down inside all we really want is this BIG … BLACK ………Lava salted caramel gelato tonight mirite???”
This time the gelato maker has attracted a lot of criticism on Facebook.
“Well, this is incredibly inappropriate,” Napoleon Millar wrote.
“Where’s the apology? Will never buy ice cream from you again,” Rosin Daisy wrote.
“Wow. Epic fail,” Juniper Maei wrote.
N2 Extreme Gelato’s controversial blackface post. Photo: Facebook/@N2ExtremeGelatoSydney
The post was updated several times over the weekend, with the blackface reference omitted.
But the company also copped criticism for not deleting the post to begin with. Instead, N2 edited the original post, leaving the original post visible in the edit history.
“Wow you guys are seriously plebs to change your post copy and not respond to being called out for your racist slurs,” Alice Elizabeth Harrison wrote.
On Sunday the gelato company posted the following apology, and vowed it would implement “tight social media scrutiny controls”.
“We deeply apologise for the careless and insensitive caption that was posted before this,” N2 Extreme Gelato wrote.
“We have taken disciplinary action against the staff in question and the staff has been suspended as well as will no longer be any social media communications role.
“Deepest apologies that this was posted so thoughtlessly. We will ensure tight social media scrutiny controls are put in place.”
Increasingly, social media marketing campaigns appear to be using risky tactics to get likes, shares and retweets.
Last year KFC Australia launched a racy social media campaign with the tag #NSFW (Not Safe For Work). The ad received more than 1,300 retweets before it was deleted.
Thinktank Social founder Sam Mutimer said some companies deliberately posted controversial content, to get people talking about them.
“It’s stupid, it really is, but now we’re talking about it, and we might still be talking about it in a month. Is that going to stop us from buying the ice cream?”
Ms Mutimer said such tactics were amateurish and only damaged the brand.
“There’s better ways to do it, that’s the lamest way of gaining attention,” she said.
“Social media is your brand voice, I don’t understand how any brand could think about doing that for one second. It’s caused them a PR nightmare within a few hours.
“There will be more of these instances out there, with risky try-hard brands, but Australia as a population is sick of seeing this.
“And anyone thinking about it – stop – there’s plenty of other ways to gain attention, you don’t need to bring racism into it.”
In May last year, a Frankston football and netball club came under fire for posting photos of players dressed in blackface on its Instagram page. The club later apologised, saying it was “extremely regretful of the situation”.
And in August a mother was slammed on social media for painting her son’s skin black for a school Book Week parade.