I’d like to start by thanking the family for keeping me up to speed on what’s going on out there. I received an email today that’s apparently been going around the web regarding Arizona Sweet Tea.
Here are some of the contents of the email I received.
FW: Arizona Sweet Tea is Racist! Black America DO NOT PURCHASE
My name is LaMar McGowan and today was the first day of my life were I felt like less of a Black Man!
When did Slavery become marketable? I’m calling for a nation wide Boycott on a drink company named ” Arizona ” which has a variety of flavors, I myself have bought a number of their drinks, but on 11/30 I bought my last one. Their is someone in the marketing dept. who told someone on the board that “We can degrade Black People and make money at the same time” and the board member agreed!
Every Black person from the south knows how good it felt on those hot southern days to have a tall glass of sweet tea. ” Arizona ” has a flavor known as “Southern Style Sweet Tea” but if you look closely on the front of the can their is a picture of a Plantation ! Yes I said a Plantation , with a white couple on the porch and a Black woman Dress like Aunt Jamama walking away from the house.
When did Slavery become marketable? My Grandfather was 100 years old before he passed in 2004 and that Picture reminds me of his very few but painful story’s not a hot southern day with a cool refreshing glass of sweet tea. So stop buying any drinks from this company! Stand up and let your voice be heard & overload their lines.
So at lunch, I dropped by my local drug store, and bought myself and Arizona Southern Style Sweet Tea. There on the 23 oz. can was the image described above. Myself, I’m generally put off by any mention of plantations -unless its in regards to a plantation tour (see my favorite Louisiana Tours Laura Plantation and Oak Alley Plantation).
I called the number on the email, and after a few menus, I heard a statement the company had on the subject of the label. More on that later. A Google search on the subject yielded the company’s position on the image from earlier this year. This is Arizona’s response after a consumer sent them an email decrying the label.
Thank you for your email regarding Arizona Sweet Tea. We at Arizona are very proud of our award-winning packaging for our products. When we design a label, we must communicate to the consumer in a matter of seconds, what exactly is in the package.
We all know that Sweet Tea originated in the Southern United States . It was with this in mind that our graphic designers set out to design a label that would capture the beauty and majesty of the South. After much discussion, we all agreed that nothing is more recognizable in the South than the beautiful stately homes found throughout the southern states.
As for the individuals pictured on the label, there was no intent on the part of Arizona or its graphic designers to denigrate any race or condone slavery. ( see attached close up original rendering (color pencil/marker) of the label). Our products are enjoyed by people of all walks of life and we do not ever want to alienate any of them. We hope you will continue to support the Arizona brand!
This image presents a problem to me. I don’t think this is the appropriate use for the whole plantation imagery. But it’s not easy to see that the woman in the front lawn is not a slave, its a “southern belle” out of some sort of stroll.
So I’m guessing some time between the time that was posted in late January and now, Arizona got the message. After digging on the Arizona website, I found a statement similar to the one I had heard earlier on the phone. It goes a little something like this.
ARIZONA SWEET TEA CONCERN
We want to thank everyone who took the time to share with us their concerns about the packaging of our Southern Style Sweet Tea. The dialogue helped us to understand the problem and move forward to correct it. Although it was never our intention for the Sweet Tea label to offend any of our customers, we understand the change in label design was needed. We have commissioned an artist to totally redesign all of the Southern Style labels, and are already in the final stages of implementing the first phase of the changeover. The new artwork will appear first on our can line and next on our glass and plastic bottles.
Southern Style tea has been one of our most popular drinks over the past five years or so. People of all walks of life enjoy this and many of our other products, and we do not ever want to alienate any of them. We hope you like our new design and will continue to support the AriZona brand.
You know how these things go. This email will probably make its way around the net another 2 or 3 million times, but hopefully someone will pass this updated info along too. I commend whoever led the charge to get this changed because if not the logo would have obviously remained the same.
I just wonder why no one ever protests, Plantation Oaks Apartments or the Plantation Golf Course or any of the other hundred other things named for plantations. What bothers me even more are the black folks who live and play golf there.