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The lollies will be renamed Explorers, to reflect New Zealanders’ history of expedition and love of the great outdoors, a company spokesperson said.
“This change reflects the business’s ongoing commitment to diversity and inclusion and are in line with the company’s purpose and values.
“While Pascall Eskimos have been enjoyed in New Zealand for over 65 years, it is important to take this action to ensure that the business is part of the solution and helping to drive positive change.”
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While visiting New Zealand in 2009 Canadian tourist Seeka Lee Veevee Parsons, an Inuit of the Nunavut Territory in Canada, said the Eskimo lollies were an insult.
At the time the company firmly rejected a change, saying it was only the second complaint and most people were not offended by the name.
Mondelez has renamed the Pascall Eskimo sweets Explorers.
According to the Alaska Native Language Center, the name “Eskimo” had been commonly used in Alaska to refer to Inuit and Yupik people, but was a colonial term now considered derogatory. “Inuit,” meaning people, was used in most of Canada, while the Inuit people of Greenland used the terms “Greenlanders” or “Kalaallit”.
Food historian David Veart welcomed the change.
“The idea of a private company taking note they’re offending some of their customers seems to me the way the system should work,” Veart said.
He could remember thinking as a child it was strange to have Eskimo sweets in New Zealand, and wondering if they had Māori lollies in Alaska.
“It was very much part of that colonial world, which borrowed names of people who were exotic, interesting, lived in a cold place.”
It was normal for societies to evolve over time, and companies were responding.
The Cherokee Nation has asked Jeep to stop using the tribe’s name on its vehicles.
“If you find yourself worried about someone changing the name of a sweet, that’s not really what you’re worried about,” Veart said
“It seems to me progress, in the way we don’t do slavery as much as we did. The place of women in society has changed, I see it as progressive.”
Following the killing of United States man George Floyd by police, there was a growing acknowledgement of the use of racial stereotyping by brands around the world.
Most recently, Dr. Seuss Enterprises said it would stop publishing six Dr. Seuss books – including And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street and If I Ran the Zoo – because of racist and insensitive imagery.
Last month, United States tribe the Cherokee Nation said it had asked Jeep to rename its top-selling Cherokee and Grand Cherokee vehicles.
“If there had been a Chrysler Ngāpuhi SUV, how long would it have been I wonder before it got keyed?” said Veart.
Bodo Lang, head of marketing at the University of Auckland’s Business School, said times had changed, and companies and brands needed to remain relevant and likeable.
However, change was not supported by everyone, and it was inevitable some people would find offence with the name Explorer.
“Most consumers will say it’s the right thing to do, that we shouldn’t be biting the head off an Eskimo.”
It was easy, although costly, to change a brand, but difficult to change a company’s practices and values, Lang said.
“Organisational change is very hard, changing a brand is relatively easy but there are risks associated with it.”
Famously New Coke flopped in 1985, lasting just three months, despite millions of dollars that was spent on market research. Even Coca-Cola featured the episode on its own website as “one of the most remarkable marketing blunders ever”.
Lang said Cadbury’s decisions to change the size of its blocks, and change the recipe briefly to include palm oil, were a textbook example of branding mistakes. The move cost Cadbury its place as market leader “by a landslide”.
Gene J. Puskar/AP
Coca-Cola featured the New Coke flop on its own website as “one of the most remarkable marketing blunders ever”.
Brands would continue to respond to consumer concerns about race, gender, religion, and other discrimination such as ableism, because the internet and social media provided global reach to voices that may not have made an impact previously.
Companies that planned to make long-lasting, meaningful change would need to have someone in charge of transformation at an organisational level, Lang said. He pointed to Countdown’s intention to increase the number of Māori and Pasifika in senior management ranks as an attempt at making organisational change.
Ultimately companies had to be profitable.
“There may be a moral win but commercial loss – but companies don’t sell morals, they sell products.
“It’s ultimately an economic decision – if more people like change than not, it will stay.”