Correos, Spain’s postal service, ended a widely derided stamp campaign inspired by different skin tones, just three days after its launch, following criticism that it perpetuated racism.
The government-run postal service earlier this week debuted “Equality Stamps,” a collection of four stamps meant to represent different skin colors. The palest of the stamps cost 90 cents more than the darkest stamp – a price difference meant to reflect the value Spaniards place on people based on their skin color, according to an ad campaign for the stamps.
The online response was overwhelmingly negative. Thousands of Twitter users criticized the campaign upon its launch, calling it tone-deaf or “accidentally racist.” Many users expressed surprise that a government-run service would approve such a product.
Sales of the stamps ended Friday morning, a spokesman for Correos told CNN. He said the postal service “will not make comments” about the criticism the campaign received.
Asked if the end to the campaign was a reaction to that criticism, he told CNN, “It’s not like that.”
“Correos is an anti-racist company,” said the spokesman who noted that the postal service does not usually specify when a campaign will end.
The stamps were meant to ‘reflect an unjust and painful reality’
The campaign launched during the EU effort European Diversity Month, specifically on the one-year mark of George Floyd’s murder. Correos partnered with the nonprofit Spanish Federation of SOS Racism on the campaign, the postal service said in a news release.
To promote the “Equality Stamps,” Correos enlisted the help of Afro-Spanish rapper Domingo Edjang Moreno, better known as El Chojin. In an English-language ad for the collection, Moreno says the stamps “reflect an unjust and painful reality which should never exist.”
Of the four shades of the “Equality Stamps,” the palest cost 1.60 euros (about $1.95), while the stamp of the darkest shade cost 0.70 euros, about 85 cents in the US.
“The darker the stamp, the lower its value,” Moreno said in the ad. “That means you’ll need more black stamps than white ones for your delivery. That way, every letter and every parcel will be a reflection of the inequality generated by racism – a protest.”
Correos’ critics saw the stamps as feeding into racism rather than combating it. While the ad described the collection as an act of protest, “demanding that color should not determine the value we place on a person’s life,” the campaign ended up offending people of color in Spain, whom the ad targets, said Antumi Toasijé, president of the Council for the Elimination of Racial or Ethnic Discrimination.
“A campaign that outrages those it claims to defend is always a mistake,” Toasijé tweeted earlier this week. He urged Correos to suspend the stamp campaign.
CNN has reached out to Moreno for comment on the campaign. A spokesperson for SOS Racism said the organization is “aware of the controversy” surrounding the stamps and is deciding its next steps.