Iconic confectionary business Beechworth Sweet Co pulls television advertisement featuring “offensive” golliwog

Beechworth Sweet Company

A sign at the Beechworth Sweet Company in 2009. Source: AAP Image/Diana Plater

The iconic Beechworth lolly shop has withdrawn a television ad featuring a toy golliwog after the advertising watchdog ruled the character “represents a symbol that humiliates and ridicules”.

The Beechworth Sweet Co’s advertisement depicted an animated version of its logo, which is made up of a toy golliwog and toy animals, along with old-fashioned confectionery.

The golliwog toy has been part of the Beechworth lolly shop’s logo since 1992.

In a complaint to the Advertising Standards Board, one person said the depiction of the golliwog was offensive.

“It shocked me deeply, this is a racist symbol,” the person wrote.

“In 2016 the image of a golliwog on television is completely inexcusable. I truly believe casual racism like this is so damaging to the community and this commercial should never be aired again.”

Beechworth lolly shop says it never intended to offend people

In response, The Beechworth Sweet Co told the advertising watchdog it never intended to be racist or offend anyone.

“The Beechworth Sweet Co believes the logo represents childhood memories, eg. toys, pets and old fashioned confectionery,” the business said.

“Golliwogs, now referred to as gollies, were very popular toys at the beginning of the 20th century and were characters in many children’s books. We believe we represent gollies as part of happy childhood memories in a tasteful [and] respectful way.”

The lolly shop confirmed it sold golliwog toys in store to “lovers and collectors of gollies or to people buying gifts for young children”.

“Every sale I have made of a gollie has been because it provokes positive memories of their childhood love for their gollie and the wish to pass that love to a child,” the business said.

However, the advertising watchdog said while there is an element of positive nostalgia for some people when it comes to the dolls, they are considered offensive because of “historical racist connotations”.

In other words, the board said community attitudes have changed.

“The board considered that the use of the animated golly character represents a symbol that humiliates and ridicules a person on account of the colour of their skin,” the watchdog ruled.

As a result, The Beechworth Sweet Co said it has suspended the TV advertisement in question pending “further correspondence regarding the processes and the possibility of a review”.

Meanwhile, it appears the ad would not have been struck down had the golly character not been animated.

As the Ad Standards Board itself said, the advertising watchdog has no jurisdiction over the design of a company’s logo.

However, by making the golliwog hand move in the ad in its final scene, the Beechworth lolly shop was deemed to have drawn “specific attention” to the doll.

Brands need to understand how community attitudes change over time

Michelle Gamble, marketing expert and founder of Marketing Angels, told SmartCompany businesses need to regularly review their advertising and logos, even if they’ve been around for a long time.

“You still need to move with the market,” Gamble says.

“I do feel some empathy for them because, perhaps naively, they haven’t done that. You can still have a nostalgic brand, but you do need to be careful about not offending people. It [the logo] clearly did if someone complained.”

SmartCompany contacted The Beechworth Sweet Co for comment but did not receive a response prior to publication.

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Syb
Syb
5 years ago

I have a gollie…..one hand sewn with quality fabrics, made by my grandmother (I am 50), along with dolls and toy animals. I was making a piece of art with dolls and upon completion ( a comment on fashion, eating disorders) I presented it for exhibition and as we discussed its relevance to culture and society, we had to consider the fact the head wrappings might be deemed insulting to muslims! I had to alter the piece and the impact was ruined and decided to withdraw the work!
how very unfortunate political correctness is what is it these days. freedom of expression and speech is going out the window.

helma Parkin
helma Parkin
5 years ago

How pathic as I still have my Golliwog and he’s over 68 years so why should anyone say
“It shocked me deeply, this is a racist symbol,” the person wrote. Get a life as why would Aborigine Child what a white doll???? This hite the Courier Mail on the 24th dec 2015 so I took my Golli shopping with me as asked people what they thought and all said the same as I wrote that stupidest rules. So Stupid and sick that one person can say that it’s a racist symbol…once again get a life.

helma Parkin
helma Parkin
5 years ago

Joining me in writing on this form https://adstandards.com.au/about/contact and tell them how you feel about stupidity of one person as this company have a lovey web site and just wish I lived down there as I’d be there every week.

A past employer
A past employer
5 years ago

Political correctness has gone mad. ONE person was offended… well tell them to F.off!! and move to a country where free speech is illegal!! I still have my golliwog from the 1950’s and i find it very offensive that someone would stick their nose into my upbringing and childhood to comment on a toy of mine… I will happily buy product from Beechworth to make up for sales lost because of ONE idiot.

Paradoxical_Dust
Paradoxical_Dust
5 years ago

I saw this complaint and immediately ordered online a quantity of sweets from the Beechworth Sweet Company. I would have never done this had I never heard of this company, but now, thanks to this complaint, they have my business. Strike back against political correctness gone mad with the most powerful weapon at your disposal – your own money.

haydn
haydn
5 years ago

Perhaps that one individual needs some form of counselling as they obviously have deeper issues if they can get offended by the sight of one animated golly and it be the cause of such angst. At the same time, we also need send the Advertising Board a message it is not their job to be thought police. We’ll now be buying from them to show support.

Tracii
Tracii
5 years ago

Unbelievably stupid…maybe everyone should buy a golliwog and sit it on the idiot that made this complaints doorstep…so many bad things happening in this world and they get offended by a golliwog…what a fool

reino
reino
4 years ago

If it has to go. Then have a green golliwog. I wonder what they would say then.

Sherri Sutherland Smith
Sherri Sutherland Smith
4 years ago

utterly ridiculous!
I don’t have any Golly’s…but I think I will go on the hunt for some now!
Anyone who thinks this is offensive is part of the PROBLEM!

the wordmistress
4 years ago

Isn’t a Golliwog doll the same as a Barbie doll in that they each emphasise the physical features of the person they’re portraying? Isn’t applying a racist connotation to a Golliwog the same as saying the afro hair and black skin are unacceptable physical features? Aren’t Barbie’s disproportionate dimensions criticised for telling girls they aren’t good enough? Anything can be spun any way that anyone wants to spin it. Choose not to subscribe to bandwagon sentiments and you’ll have a great life!

Taylor
Taylor
4 years ago

I can’t believe how a golliwog is offensive. Why don’t we just politically correct ourselves for being who we are. Amazing a white doll is okay, maybe I should get offended over that. Regardless of colour its just a F****** toy. Suppose its green or purple maybe an alien will get offended over that. The individual who complained needs to GET A LIFE and stop sulking about this golliwog.