The popular brand, which is sold in China, the Philippines, Thailand and other Asian countries, has long been criticized for using racist images. The brand is marketed in Chinese as “Black Person Toothpaste” and was sold using the tribal surname Darkie until its name was changed in 1989.
“For more than 35 years, we have been working on brand development, including substantial name changes, logo and packaging. We are currently working with our partner to test and further develop all aspects of the brand, including the brand name. “The company said in a statement to Reuters.
Protests have erupted around the world following the assassination of Floyd, an unarmed black man, by a White Police officer in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The campaign against racial injustice has also sparked speculation in the corporate world, with some companies choosing to acknowledge the racist roots of their business.
Darlie is made by Hawley & Hazel, which was founded in Shanghai and is based in Hong Kong. Toothpaste became part of Colgate’s product line when Colgate acquired 50% of Hawley & Hazel in 1985.
“The executive believed that Jolson’s wide smile and bright teeth would make a great toothpaste logo,” author Kerry Segrave wrote in the book.
After Colgate entered into a joint venture with Hawley & Hazel, US church groups pushed the company to abolish the Darkie brand, according to Segrave. Colgate resigned in 1989, renaming Darkie Darlie and redesigning the logo.