Boycott Watch  
May 29, 2008
Dunkin Donuts Backs Down after Rachel Ray's Arafat Jihadist Keffiyeh Scarf Spurs Boycott
Summary: Dunkin Donuts was quick to respond to a gaffe, but it still mat cost Dunkin Donuts, and especially Rachel Ray who has not yet responded.
    Food Diva Rachel Ray appeared in an Internet commercial for Dunkin Donuts wearing a Keffiyah, the Arab head scarf popularized by arch terrorist Yassir Arafat, sparking uproar by consumers nationally after the story broke in the blogosphere. Syndicated columnist and my friend Debbie Schlussel pointed out that Pam Geller from the Atlas Shrugs blog () was first to cover the story. Since then, many consumers have been upset, resulting in Dunkin Donuts pulling the ad.

    Nothing in a television commercial is done haphazardly. While live TV has no safety nets, commercials, television shows and movies are produced with every detail examined and scrutinized. Rachel Ray is not a neophyte to the world, traveling globally to produce food shows, so it is inconceivable that she had no idea of the meaning or symbolism of the Keffiyeh. Regardless of who picked the wardrobe, Rachel Ray and the producers of the commercial should have been smart enough to realize they were making a mistake, which leads many to the conclusion that the Keffiyeh was in fact worn as a symbol of solidarity with terrorists.

    Just as corporate CEO's are responsible for their company's bottom line, Dunkin Donuts is responsible for the content of their ads, and they should have known there was a problem in an ad with a star wearing Hezbollah attire. The fact that Dunkin Donuts pulled the Rachel Ray ad is good, but they should have never aired it in the first place.

    Meanwhile, Margie Myers, Dunkin' Donuts Senior Vice President, Communications for Dunkin' Brands responded as follows: "In a recent online ad, Rachael Ray is wearing a black-and-white silk scarf with a paisley design. It was selected by a stylist for the advertising shoot. Absolutely no symbolism was intended. However, as of this past weekend, we are no longer using the online ad because the possibility of misperception detracted from its original intention to promote our iced coffee."

    The question for Boycott Watch is how will this affect Dunkin Donut sales? The fact is that for most people, Dunkin Donuts is not a must-have daily stop. While most people enjoy a hot cup of coffee and a donut every so often, the vast majority of people do not patronize donuts shops daily. Regardless, Dunkin Donuts is a company that can easily be hurt by such a boycott since it feeds on the discretionary funds of consumers.

    Starbucks, which competes with Dunkin Donuts, has a distinct coffee, thus people make Starbucks a destination, but not so much for their pastries. For Dunkin, the donuts are the prime attraction. Meanwhile, Starbucks has a new coffee blend, Pike Place, which directly competes with the coffee at Dunkin Donuts.

    While we have seen some calls for boycotts in this case, Boycott Watch predicts any such boycott against Dunkin Donuts will be short lived, as people will forget about this by summers end, mainly because there was not intent by Dunkin Donuts and because the company was quick to react.

    Rachel Ray, however, has yet to comment or apologize. Dunkin Donuts claims it was a stylist who gave Rachel Ray the Keffiyeh, but they had no comment if the stylist or film production crew was employed by Dunkin, Rachel Ray or an outside ad agency. If any if our readers have first hand knowledge, please let us know.

    Meanwhile, Advertisers on Rachel Ray's TV show may keep away at first, thus hurting her shows revenue. In the long run, Rachel Ray's career may be defined by this commercial and her public response, whenever that happens. This article will be updated as more information becomes available.

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