Today it was announced that controversial toothpaste brand Darlie will finally rebrand it's Chinese name 黑人牙膏, which literally translates To "Black Man Toothpaste".
Darlie was founded in Shanghai as "Darkie" by Hawley and Hazel Chemical Company in 1936. The logo was based on American minstrel performer Al Jolson, famous for performing in "blackface". Before World War II it quickly became one of the best selling toothpaste brands in China, Singapore, Indonesia and Thailand. In the late 1940's the company set up production bases in Hong Kong and Taiwan and subsequently expanded its foot print in Southeast Asia. Since 2012 it is the number 1 selling brand in its category in China.
In 1985 Hawley and Hazel sold a 50% stake to Colgate-Palmolive which in 1989 changed the English brand term to "Darlie" and updated the logo to a more ethnically ambiguous man. The Chinese brand name however remained the same to this day.
In an email to Bloomberg, Colgate-Palmolive now stated: “For more than 35 years, we have been working together to evolve the brand, including substantial changes to the name, logo and packaging. We are currently working with our partner to review and further evolve all aspects of the brand, including the brand name.”