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'Racist and sexist' Müller pin-ups spark backlash

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Sharon Sheila Schoko from Müller. Image: Müller
11:31 CET+01:00
German dairy company Müller has caused a storm on social media by selling its flavoured milk bottles with pictures of semi-naked women on them. Critics claim the artwork contains a double whammy of racism and sexism.

According to the Bavarian dairy firm, the campaign is a homage to 1950s pin-up girls.

On the banana-flavoured milk is a picture of a topless blonde woman in nothing but a short skirt and a Santa hat. The brunette on the hazelnut milk bottle is lying on her back playing with an over-sized nut.

Most controversially, on the chocolate milk bottle a dark-skinned woman identified as “Sharon Sheila Schoko” hides her modesty behind a piece of dark chocolate.

The bottles have only been on the shelf for a matter of days but the reaction has been instant, with the hashtag #ichkaufdasnicht (I'm not buying that), starting to trend on Twitter.

One user commented that the company evidently wanted to "to insult as many women as possible".

“It's weird. It is definitely racist and sexist. Even in the 1950s these types of pictures were considered sexist,” Tahir Della of the Initiative for Black People in Germany (ISD) told The Local.

“They are trying to provoke and they are trying to do something which sits on the boundaries of acceptable taste,” he said. “But even if they didn't have racist intentions, this is still racist.”

But Müller claim they can't understand what all the fuss is about.

“Our chosen motif references 1950s pin-up poses and in this regard it is much less revealing than what has become the standard in terms of naked flesh on TV and in adverts in recent years,” the company told Handelsblatt.

“Racism in any form was never our intention. We would have faced exactly the same accusation if we hadn't chosen Sharon Sheila Schoko but had instead gone with an exclusively white motif.”

Fighting against companies which use black figures to sell chocolate products to Germans has been a constant struggle of the ISD for its 30 years of existence, Della lamented.

It took years of pressure to persuade producers of Negerküsse (Negro kisses) - a marshmallow-style confection with a milk chocolate coating - to change the name to Schaumküsse (foam kisses).

“It is hard to have this conversation with companies. They still use the defence that if they didn't have racist intentions, or it's not provable that they did, then it's fine to do it,” he said.

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Bavaria, Müller's home state, does not have the best reputation when it comes to sensitivity.

Recently, the Bavarian Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann courted controversy when he called the black singer Roberto Blanco a "wonderful Negro" in a TV debate on immigration.

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