Obama ice cream leaves sour taste

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The Independent Online

A Russian advertising agency has used an image resembling US President Barack Obama to promote a new vanilla-and-chocolate ice cream, drawing the ire of human rights groups who said the ad was vulgar.

Ice Cream Plant No 3 in the Urals city of Yekaterinburg launched a new brand named "Duet" last week. The advert features a computer-generated caricature of a broadly smiling figure resembling Mr Obama standing in front of the US Congress with the ice cream in the foreground. The strapline reads: "It's on everyone's lips – the Dark is in the White!"

Yevgeny Primachenko, the deputy creative director of Voskhod advertisement agency, said: "We wanted to make the print amusing and cheerful, just as joyful and pleasant as the process of eating an ice cream.

"This is just a vanilla ice cream with a chocolate filling," he added. "We decided: why not use such a great news peg as the election of the first black US president to the White House?"

Russia has a growing problem with violent racist attacks on dark-skinned immigrants. Prominent Russian human rights activist Lev Ponomaryov rapped the advertisement as "a vulgar exploitation of some political symbols in pursuit of commercial interests". He added however: "I do not think the person who created this is necessarily a racist... But our society is xenophobic all the same".

Mr Primachenko said: "We have so far not received any critical calls from Russia. I can tell you one thing - our client is absolutely happy, that's the main thing."