PepsiCo’s Aunt Jemima brand to retire its name and logo

20 Jun 2020

PepsiCo’s subsidiary The Quaker Oats Company announced this week it will remove the namesake black image from its Aunt Jemima packaging by the fourth quarter of this year. Later this year, Quaker will announce the new name for the company’s syrup and other products.

Following the announcement from Aunt Jemima on Wednesday, three other American brands that have long been decried for featuring racist caricatures on their packaging also committed to changing their logos. Mars’s said it will "evolve" the imagery on its Uncle Ben’s rice brand labels and Mrs. Butterworth’s, owned by Conagra, will undergo “a complete brand and packaging review on Mrs. Butterworth’s.” B&G Foods’ Cream of Wheat will also undergo a packaging review.

PepsiCo’s Aunt Jemima brand to retire its name and logo

These brands have come under renewed criticism from the public as protests sparked by the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody brought the discussion of race to the forefront of the American dialogue.

In Quaker's statement that it will overhaul the Aunt Jemima brand, it also said that it will donate $5 million to the Black community.

The brand has long been criticized for its stereotypical portrayal of Black female-hood. Not only is the image, which has been updated over the years, a depiction of a Black “mammy” but, according to Forbes that cited a 1997 article from the New York Times, using “aunt” or “uncle,” to refer to Black females and males respectively was done in order to avoid using the honorifics “Mr.” or “Mrs.”

In a statement, Quaker said the 131-year-old brand acknowledged that “Aunt Jemima’s origins are based on a racial stereotype.” Other FMCG giants that are reevaluating their packaging imagery put out statements that called the logos “racist” in no unequivocal terms. Quaker stopped just short of using that language.

The news that the Aunt Jemima brand will have a whole new face and name comes only a day after parent company PepsiCo committed $400 million over the course of five years to further initiatives geared toward supporting the Black community. These initiatives include an intentional effort to introduce more Black employees into executive and managerial roles.

Completely renewing a company logo is an undertaking that can have far-reaching consequences. Studies have demonstrated that brand mascots can cause consumers to form positive feelings about a brand throughout the duration of their life. However, removal will unlikely irrevocably damage the breakfast brand. There was an era when the Land O'Lakes butter maiden, the Frito Bandito and Joe Camel were familiar faces on packaging. Following public outcry about their continued use, the images were removed and replaced. The brands themselves though still exist.

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