Supermarket chain Albert Heijn published a poem in all the main national newspapers on Monday in response to the row about its decision to phase out the use of ‘black face’ Zwarte Piet characters.
Last week, the Dutch market leader said Zwarte Piet, played by white people in blackface make-up, will not be used in advertising either in the media or in the stores themselves in the run up to the Sinterklaas celebrations.
‘We have customers from all walks of life and are taking every sentiment into account,’ a spokesman told broadcaster Nos. ‘Sinterklaas is a fun celebration for everyone and we are taking that into account.’
The news prompted calls for a boycott of the company and analysts said there would be a knock-on effect on sales.
In the six-line poem, Albert Heijn says that reports that Piet has been banned from its stores are ‘absolutely not true’ and that Piet will ‘be on the shelves like every year’.
‘We think you are fabulous in black and other colours, but let everyone in the Netherlands make their own choice’, the poem concludes.
Poems poking fun at people or scoring points are a traditional part of the Sinterklaas festivities.
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