Top Firm Forced To Remove 'Sambo' Logo

Deborah Hobson - EXCLUSIVE

Photo: Marc

The-Latest has helped win a David and Goliath victory over a giant Scandinavian food manufacturer who for a decade have stubbornly refused to remove a racist logo from one of their most popular products.

Cloetta Fazer have just announced that they are going to get rid of the insulting  'Sambo' image from the wrapping paper of liquorice sticks made by them for more than 80 years. The Finnish company, which is one of the biggest food manufacturers in northern Europe, has faced international criticism from anti-racists including editor of The-Latest. Marc Wadsworth who started the campaign against the offensive image in 1996.

The breakthrough came when the Finnish Ombudsman for Minorities, Mikko Puumalainen, supported Wadsworth's complaint to him last year and referred the case to the country's powerful Consumer Agency. According to the Ombudsman 'the long time use of a certain wrapping paper does not as such make the usage acceptable. Neither does the wish to continue a tradition by using a certain kind of wrapping make the usage of the wrapping in question acceptable in these cases.'

The Ombusman added: "Companies should also promote good ethnic relations in society and the usage of these kinds of wrapping papers does not do that."

Meanwhile, British MEP Claude Moraes backed the campaign and raised the matter with the Presidency of the European Union, which was held by Finland until this month.

Wadsworth, whose mother is Finnish, said:  "This shows how a determined, grassroots campaign can succeed against formidable opponents like the food giant Cloetta Fazer who arrogantly maintained to the very end that they would not remove the logo. News media-generated bad publicity for the firm, including what we carried on The-Latest, combined with political pressure forced the company to give in."

Claude Moraes MEP said he had been shocked by the hate mail he had got from Finland, after supporting the campaign: He commented:  "I am really pleased Cloetta Fazer have finally seen sense and done something that is long overdue. Logos on sweet packets may not be the most important thing in the fight against racism but symbolic issues of this kind are a barometer of good race relations in a country like Finland which prides itself on its enlightened social policies."

London correspondent of Ilta Sanomat, the top-selling Finnish newspaper which first publicised the issue, explained why people had reacted so 'aggressively". Sanna Ukkola said: "Finnish people seem to react quite strongly - many of them felt that Fazer is one of Finland's traditional symbols like Nokia, and that is why they support the image as a matter of national pride."

Cloetta Fazer grudgingly accepted defeat. Explaining their about face, communications chief Anita Laxen said:  "The package raises debate in the multicultural society, and additionally, the wrapping needs to be improved in the international market. That is why we are changing it."

The company said new packaging would be introduced at the end of the year.



2 Responses to "Top Firm Forced To Remove 'Sambo' Logo"

chris's picture


Wed, 01/17/2007 - 14:59
<p><strong><u>Chris Gaynor</u></strong></p> Just shows you campanies do not think about the ramifications of the products they advertise or design!


Tue, 01/23/2007 - 23:21
<table border="0" cellspacing="0" cellpadding="0" width="500" class="border_black"> <tbody> <tr> <td> <table border="0" cellspacing="0" cellpadding="5" width="100%" class="border_white"> <tbody> <tr> <td bgcolor="#ebebeb"><span class="verdana_normal">I&#39;m an American who&#39;s been living in Finland for four years. I started my <em>Finland for Thought</em> blog to address some of the political, cultural, and current event issues in Finland and the United States. I am a strong advocate of liberty, <u>i</u>ndividuality, equality, and tolerance. Here is a current debate I carried which is relevant to your story - Phil</span></td></tr></tbody></table></td></tr></tbody></table><a rel="bookmark" href=""><br /></a><div class="post"> <div class="storycontent"> <div class="img-shadow1"><img src="" border="0" /></div> <p>Pressure from the EU, Finnish Consumer Agency, Ombudsman for Minorities, media and others have <u><a href="">forced Fazer to change its &nbsp;&quot;racist&quot; mascot</a> </u>which it has used since 1927. </p> <blockquote> <p>Sweets maker Cloetta Fazer says it will be changing the wrapper of one of its most popular products. Lakritsi liquorice&#39;s mascot is considered by many to be offensive, even racist. The wrapper features a caricature of a black figure, with the exaggerated red lips and cornrows reminiscent of the reviled blackface images of the mid 20th century. </p></blockquote> <p>This mascot would never survive one day in the United States, the Fazer family would be hung from a tree for using this logo, but I seriously doubt that many Finns know anything about blackface (Honestly, I&#39;ve seen the logo many times, and never really realized what it was until the media brought it to my attention). Back in 1927, &nbsp;&quot;<a href="">blackface</a>&quot; was considered acceptable by whites, now it&#39;s considered grossly inappropriate and racist&nbsp;&hellip;</p> <blockquote> <p>Blackface is a style of theatrical makeup that originated in the United States, used to affect the countenance of an iconic, racist American archetype &nbsp;&#8212; that of the darky or coon. Blackface also refers to a genre of musical and comedic theatrical presentation in which blackface makeup is worn. White blackface performers in the past used burnt cork and later greasepaint or shoe polish to blacken their skin and exaggerate their lips, often wearing woolly wigs, gloves, tailcoats, or ragged clothes to complete the transformation. Later, black artists also performed in blackface.</p> <p>[&nbsp;&hellip;]Blackface minstrelsy&#39;s groundbreaking appropriation, exploitation, and assimilation of African-American culture &nbsp;&#8212; as well as the inter-ethnic artistic collaborations that stemmed from it &nbsp;&#8212; were but a prologue to the lucrative packaging, marketing, and dissemination of African-American cultural expression and its myriad derivative forms in today&#39;s world popular culture.</p></blockquote> <p>It raises some interesting questions - if something is inappropriate elsewhere in the world, is it appropriate everywhere? Take the Mohammed cartoons for instance, they&#39;re forbidden in many parts of the world, so should they be forbidden everywhere? But maybe that&#39;s a bad example, is being critical of religion versus being critical of race like comparing apples and oranges, since one is a choice while the other is not?</p> <p>And I wonder how much longer they&#39;ll wait before they change the Brunberg kisses mascot..?<br /><img src="" border="0" /> </p></div> <div class="feedback"><!-- 16th Jan --></div></div> <div id="comments-block"> <h1 id="comments">79 Comments <a href="#postcomment" title="Leave a comment">&nbsp;»</a> </h1> <ol><li> <p>I wonder if you know that Brunbergin suukot used to be named Neekerin pusut&nbsp;&hellip;</p> <p>I understand the reasons of changing the logo here, of course, but hey, it&#39;s just liquorice! Would a white face on a bar of white chocolate be considered racist then <img class="wp-smiley" src="" border="0" alt=";)" /> Anyway, I feel sorry for an old household logo disappearing. </p> <p>Comment by Agent Provocateur &nbsp;&#8212; Tue, Jan 16th, 2007 @ <a href="#comment-278705">11:29 am</a> </p> </li><li> <p>I am absolutely against any form of racism and often I am getting mad about the people who constantly are defending the racism among Finns as being &quot; just not used to outsiders&quot; -what a crap! But&nbsp;&hellip;. this is ridiculous! The Fazer and Brunberg logos and images have historic value and were never intended as a denigrating, or otherwise. I can not see any connection to racism. Not then and not now. </p> <p>Comment by <a rel="external nofollow" href="">majava</a> &nbsp;&#8212; Tue, Jan 16th, 2007 @ <a href="#comment-278708">11:40 am</a> </p> </li><li> <p>The competing brand (Halva) even hired The Delta Rhythm Boys for their advertisement in the 70&#39;s&nbsp;&hellip;</p> <p>Otherwise this is so this (tää on niin tätä). Don&#39;t touch the underlying problems, just make it look neat.</p> <p>Hmmm, how about next removing the caricatures of 37 years old, slightly bald white guys from the commercials, especially from those marketing medicines for erectial dysfunction. </p> <p>Comment by Antti (the redneck one) &nbsp;&#8212; Tue, Jan 16th, 2007 @ <a href="#comment-278712">11:54 am</a> </p> </li><li> <p>&nbsp;&hellip;and the kids nowadays aren&#39;t allowed to play catch, with the signature shout: &nbsp;&quot;Kuka pelkää mustaa miestä?&quot; <img class="wp-smiley" src="" border="0" alt=";)" /> </p> <p>Racism my ass. </p> <p>Comment by FinnFreak &nbsp;&#8212; Tue, Jan 16th, 2007 @ <a href="#comment-278731">12:13 pm</a> </p> </li><li> <p><em>what a crap! But&nbsp;&hellip;. this is ridiculous! The Fazer and Brunberg logos and images have historic value and were never intended as a denigrating, or otherwise. I can not see any connection to racism.</em></p> <p>I think if you knew what blackface was all about, you&#39;d change your mind. </p> <p>Comment by <a rel="external nofollow" href="">Phil</a> &nbsp;&#8212; Tue, Jan 16th, 2007 @ <a href="#comment-278747">12:34 pm</a> </p> </li><li> <p><em>I understand the reasons of changing the logo here, of course, but hey, it&#39;s just liquorice! Would a white face on a bar of white chocolate be considered racist then</em></p> <p>It&#39;s not about having a black person as a mascot, it&#39;s about blackface, which is intended to be racist. </p> <p>Comment by <a rel="external nofollow" href="">Phil</a> &nbsp;&#8212; Tue, Jan 16th, 2007 @ <a href="#comment-278748">12:36 pm</a> </p> </li><li> <p>&nbsp;&quot;And I wonder how much longer they&#39;ll wait before they change the Brunberg kisses mascot..?&quot;</p> <p>They did change the logo a little, at the same time as they changed the name. Or so I have read in the papers. The lips where made smaller and the girl got new clothes. She wore some kind of bast skirt before.</p> <p>As for this whole thing, changing logos and stuff&nbsp;&hellip; It seems (white) people are very afraid of recognizing the different skin colors of colored people. Is it wrong or racist recognizing a difference, even though you don&#39;t think or imply that one color is better than the other. A little like The Emperors New Clothes, isn&#39;t it? People are so afraid of being labeled racists, they don&#39;t see things for what they are and live with them. </p> <p>Comment by s &nbsp;&#8212; Tue, Jan 16th, 2007 @ <a href="#comment-278759">12:45 pm</a> </p> </li><li> <p>How about the Elovena girl? The mascot of oats flakes in Finland? It&#39;s like this: <a rel="nofollow" href=""></a></p> <p>Do you find that racistic? In fact it is, it&#39;s a comparison made because of the girl&#39;s pale face and blond hair. We blondes must rebel about this kind of racism!!! ;D </p> <p>Comment by namelessgirl &nbsp;&#8212; Tue, Jan 16th, 2007 @ <a href="#comment-278779">1:08 pm</a> </p> </li><li> <p>The flower-hatted aunties are out in force, trying to sanitize anything possible. Half of the class that I study with are from Africa, and most of them think that those candies are a bit funny. </p> <p>Comment by Unit &nbsp;&#8212; Tue, Jan 16th, 2007 @ <a href="#comment-278799">1:27 pm</a> </p> </li><li> <p>Does anyone know if Musta Pekka playing cards still exist in stores? I remember playing it as a kid. Anyway, Musta Pekka (is the name derived from the Dutch Zwarte Piet of the wikipedia link?) is 1/1 blackface, the blackface caricature can also be found at old Pekka &amp; Pätkä movies. Jees poks holirei! </p> <p>Comment by Agent Provocateur &nbsp;&#8212; Tue, Jan 16th, 2007 @ <a href="#comment-278800">1:27 pm</a> </p> </li><li> <p>The Elovena girl is a drawing of someone meant to look like a human&nbsp;&hellip;.the Lakritsi image is a spoof of a black woman&nbsp;&hellip;</p> <p>Maybe the Elovena girl should have huge tits and assuming a position, or just look dumb&nbsp;&hellip;.then there might be an issue&nbsp;&hellip;</p> <p>The old Lakritsi mascot is totally racist, and to consider it just a thing of a more innocent past is indicative of the widespread ignorance of racism in Finland </p> <p>Comment by Kai &nbsp;&#8212; Tue, Jan 16th, 2007 @ <a href="#comment-278802">1:30 pm</a> </p> </li><li> <p>Musta Pekka playing cards are no more - they are now simply &nbsp;&quot;Pekka&quot; playing cards.</p> <p>&nbsp;&hellip;I wonder when the movie &nbsp;&quot;Pekka ja Pätkä neekerinä&quot; (1960) will get banned..? <img class="wp-smiley" src="" border="0" alt=";)" /> </p> <p>Comment by FinnFreak &nbsp;&#8212; Tue, Jan 16th, 2007 @ <a href="#comment-278811">1:46 pm</a> </p> </li><li> <p>Once upon a time in Africa, by the Tsikkadua -river,<br />lived a boy Huuaakotti, black like washed wit soot.<br />(Couldn&#39;t make it rhyme).</p> <p>I know packings and wrappers with images and caricatures of atleast indians, blacks, eskimos, spaniards, laplanders, savoyards, osthrobonians&nbsp;&hellip; aww, they keep coming and coming, I&#39;m drowning in ignorance and racism!</p> <p>I&#39;ve seen a hc anti-racist and human rights activist laughing at Kalliala-Petelius nunnuka-nunnuka loilaa -performance&nbsp;&hellip; </p> <p>Comment by issi &nbsp;&#8212; Tue, Jan 16th, 2007 @ <a href="#comment-278847">2:35 pm</a> </p> </li><li> <p>FinnFreak,</p> <p>but does the picture of (Musta) Pekka still exist in the cards? </p> <p>Comment by Agent Provocateur &nbsp;&#8212; Tue, Jan 16th, 2007 @ <a href="#comment-278872">2:49 pm</a> </p> </li><li> <p>My wife and I joke about bringing suukoja back from Finland as treats for the staff in the office. The box would certainly result in that being my last day at work.</p> <p>They are good though. </p> <p>Comment by <a rel="external nofollow" href="">Fred Fry</a> &nbsp;&#8212; Tue, Jan 16th, 2007 @ <a href="#comment-278877">2:51 pm</a> </p> </li><li> <p>The (Musta) Pekka is a chiney sweeper now. </p> <p>Comment by issi &nbsp;&#8212; Tue, Jan 16th, 2007 @ <a href="#comment-278931">3:07 pm</a> </p> </li><li> <p>issi -language: chiney = chimney. </p> <p>Comment by issi &nbsp;&#8212; Tue, Jan 16th, 2007 @ <a href="#comment-278942">3:10 pm</a> </p> </li><li> <p>I read in HBL about a couple of months ago that Brunberg is going to change the packaging this year. They already got rid of the word neger in the title a few years ago on the kiss product.</p> <p>Personally I don&#39;t really see the racism in it. I think people are misconnecting both the Fazer and Brunberg product images in some kind of PC frenzy. For instance, would you consider the packaging of Kalles kaviar racist towards Scandinavians? Of course not (I hope).</p> <p>I think it is very sad to lose these parts of our history. I particularly feel sad about the eventual change of packet by Brunberg, as it is a good company from my hometown of whom I have known many of the staff and it is part of the town&#39;s history. I have actually already put a box away in the storage for history&#39;s sake. </p> <p>Comment by JG &nbsp;&#8212; Tue, Jan 16th, 2007 @ <a href="#comment-279056">3:43 pm</a> </p> </li><li> <p>That a society is multiracial is at best a neutral fact of life. At worst, it&#39;s a condition that poisons everything by turning every other issue into a race issue. Multiraciality is really nothing to celebrate. Should a society already be multiracial as a result of various accidents of history, fine. But deliberately constructing a multiracial society is asking for trouble. </p> <p>Comment by Markku &nbsp;&#8212; Tue, Jan 16th, 2007 @ <a href="#comment-279080">3:54 pm</a> </p> </li><li> <p>Spoken like a true racist, Markku&nbsp;&hellip;.At best it is a neutral fact of life? c&#39;mon, multiracial societies have produced e.g. jazz, hardly neutral&nbsp;&hellip;.</p> <p>multiraciality is a wonderful occurence</p> <p>&nbsp;&hellip;Finland would do well with a deeper gene pool&nbsp;&hellip;</p> <p>..Every other issue hopefully won&#39;t have to become one of race..</p> <p>But to get a taste of one&#39;s own medicine, let&#39;s suggest:</p> <p>Putting a character of a fat, pathetic, middle-aged drunk Finnish man in a tacky warm up outfit with his ass hanging over his trousers on every bottle of Koskenkorva/Finlandia and exporting that&nbsp;&hellip;</p></li></ol></div>