Terry White chemist under fire for golliwog display: Why businesses need to consider community sentiment

A Terry White chemist in Toowoomba has swiftly apologised for an in-store display of golliwogs as businesses are warned about the importance of understand community sentiment when stocking products.

A customer spotted a display of the dolls alongside promotional material that features the words “white Christmas” at the Clifford Gardens store at the end of last week, causing upset among some consumers and activists, who branded the town the “most racist” in the country.

However, the store manager moved quickly to address the issue, promising to remove the dolls from store and acknowledging the “regrettable error” in the first place.

Meanwhile, those on social media clashed over whether golliwogs were acceptable in Australian stores, with many bemused that another store had been caught out by stocking or referring to the dolls in advertising when they cause such offence among some shoppers. This morning a Terry White spokesperson told SmartCompany there was nothing further to add on the issue now it had been resolved.

In July confectionery business Beechworth Sweet Co withdrew television advertising that featured a golliwog, which had been part of the company’s branding since the 1990s, after a viewer complained to the Advertising Standards Board.

“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,” the complainant said of the advertisement.

Ricky Muir, who was at the time a federal member of parliament representing the Australian Motoring Enthusiasts Party, then called out the complaint as “political correctness gone mad”.

The Terry White franchise might have responded quickly to the concerns last week, but that hasn’t stopped customers fighting among themselves on Twitter and Facebook about the brand’s responsibility to shoppers in the event they are offended. Those who believe the dolls are offensive have clashed with other shoppers that do not, with complaints continuing to flow to the chemist brand on social media – both for the initial sale of the products, and the removal of them.

Read more: Ricky Muir calls out “political correctness gone mad” after advertising watchdog upholds complaint against Beechworth Sweet Co golliwog ad

Quick action is good, but beware the echo chamber

Marketing expert Michelle Gamble, founder of Marketing Angels, told SmartCompany the chemist branch might well have learned from a number of high profile instances of products being pulled from shelves for causing offence this year, but some businesses still have work to do when it comes to community awareness.

“Chemists are about wellbeing – that’s a brand that really does need to think about this,” she says.

“But [the store manager] has done the right thing, and people make mistakes.”

Despite the quick action, Gamble says it’s a worthy reminder that some businesses are still unaware of what will cause upset to their broader customer bases.

“People are in a bit of an echo chamber, so they might still not know what others will think,” she says.

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Michael Ratner
Michael Ratner
4 years ago

Help !!!! How can a Golliwog cause anyone to be upset. This is self indulgent hysteria.
Hell some people are born white, some black and some brindle. Please tell me what particular race Golliwogs belong to. While you’re at it could someone also please name one Goilliwog that is offended.
Terry White … it’s time to grow a pair.

Blake Richards
Blake Richards
4 years ago
Reply to  Michael Ratner

I have a black dolly named Topsy, she is black as can be. I wash her and wash her and wash her—but I can’t get her white like me. An old nursery rhyme, is that now racist?

Claymore
Claymore
4 years ago
Reply to  Blake Richards

I remeber the black-n-white minstrels, what a group, but no, they are not allowed any more. Boy could they sing! But music is irrelevant. Unfortunately, our children and gradnchildren are being taught discrimination by the media, and that will come back to bite badly, all too soon. Hate is taught, not learned.

Steve Palmer
Steve Palmer
4 years ago

Watch out Barbie you’re next.

Bill
Bill
4 years ago

Yep. From now on every time I run an ad campaign or put up a new display in my shop I will canvass everything with my community to make sure I don’t offend anyone. Every ad campaign should only take a small amount of time to pass through everyone in the town. Nope, cant see a down side at all.

Claymore
Claymore
4 years ago
Reply to  Bill

And next time I see a white doll, I will take offence and have it removed, too. In fact no dolls at all please!

whoismiltonfriedman
whoismiltonfriedman
4 years ago

WAP Terry White!

helma Parkin
helma Parkin
4 years ago

How Pathic ??? do I have to geet rid of 45 plus Golly just because of a few that are sick .
Next we will have to have brown doll doll only just for a few who can’t stop being racist …Get a life as it happens every year had they now make a stand of them o one would have talken notice….Time the Aborigine moved into the new world and like David said about the Stone Age you move on, if they want to go back well let’s cut Welfare annd see what happens.

haydn
haydn
4 years ago

Well, by her saying this was ‘a mistake’, we now see which side of the fence Michelle Gamble sits on. Bring on the thought police ‘cos someone’s offended.
What about my right to be offended at their offence? This is about the few that shout the loudest in order to get their way and they aren’t the majority. The complainant needs to get a grip on reality.
I’m afraid in my view, Terry White’s Manager capitulated when he or she shouldn’t have.

Claymore
Claymore
4 years ago

So the trolls can now tell us what we can or can’t buy. Thanks for the ad though, we were able to buy a couple to show our grandchildren one day: “See, little Johny, this is what we could buy when we were a free country… !”