Sonic Drive-In has pulled a commercial featuring General George Custer off the air.
The Oklahoma City-based fast food chain premiered the commercial on April 24 to advertize a frozen dessert called a Custard Concrete. But the ad quickly drew criticism from social media users who called its humor insensitive.
— heatherfeather (@heather28df) April 24, 2017
— Indigenous (@AmericanIndian8) April 27, 2017
In the video, a man dressed as Custer argues with a friend about whether the 19th-century general’s name is “Custer” or “custard.”
Custer is best known for leading the Battle of the Little Bighorn 1876, in which he and more than 200 other soldiers were defeated by Lakota, Cheyenne and Arapaho warriors. Before his death in that battle, Custer directed other military operations against Native Americans, resulting in many deaths.
Sonic began pulling the commercial from TV stations on Apr. 26, and completed the task on May 1.
“We appreciate our customers making us aware of our missteps and expressing their concern so we could take action. We sincerely apologize for our mistake and thank our fans for letting us know their feelings,” said Jason Acock, Sonic’s communications manager, in an email.
Social media users blasted the company for making light of historical tragedy.
“I don't understand how anyone thought a commercial with a purveyor of Native genocide was a good idea,” said Heather Davidson, a Native American woman who posted critical Tweets about the video.
Davidson said she appreciated Sonic’s apology, but was disappointed that the commercial was made in the first place. “Native people are constantly erased,” she said.
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