Most Duke’s Email Club members appreciate his sense of humor, use of imagery, and the text he writes himself. It’s Duke…his approach has never altered in his 30 years in business as the last thing we ever want to be is ‘another’ email, but something people talk about, buzz about, tell their friends about, and realize that humor in all its forms sometimes offends albeit that is certainly not our intention. Again, I appreciate the feedback and will forward directly to Duke should he want to weigh in. However, I feel he’ll echo my comments as these collaborations are just that.
When he wrote, "I don't see the reference to African-Americans..." and continued the defense of the noose (referring to its use in "Colonial America and England in the 16th and 18th Centuries...") underscored how out of touch and insensitive he/they were in the use of the noose as a symbol for their advertising. 400 years of the unspeakable, shameful horrors of slavery and he does not "see the reference to African-Americans?"
I wrote again and put forth a couple of outrageous, hypothetical scenarios, which I was confident (as a matter of good taste) Duke's would never even consider using in an ad, simply as a means to make the point that African-American people have a profoundly different visceral reaction to the image of a noose anytime or anywhere and that reaction is different from how white people perceive it.
Duke's would be hard-pressed to find a Brit or other white person whose reaction would be the same as an African-American's painful reaction on seeing a noose utilized in an advertising campaign flippantly as if it is or can be an object of amusement.
I challenged Duke's to show the ad to black employees and ask for their gut reaction to it. Does it make them proud to work for Duke’s? They may fear for their jobs, may fear a hostile work environment, so they may not answer truthfully, but I encouraged him to give employees an opportunity anyway to weigh in on it. I suggested that Duke's distribute a simple, anonymous survey card that would only require a check mark as a reply: “Seeing a noose in an ad for Duke’s: a) bothers me, b) doesn’t bother me.”
Rhetorically, I asked if they'd consider putting a "Whites Only" sign at the entrance or if the next ad campaign would feature Duke being "tarred and feathered." Of course not! It would be outrageous. I pointed out those scenarios in an effort to help them 'connect the dots' and see that a noose is every bit as offensive.
Rich Carr replied that: