October 28, 2014

The Buddha is the New Face of Customer Service

Apparently the Buddha works at a San Francisco customer service start up. At least so it appears when you first see Zendesk’s brand mascot, The Mentor, who is elsewhere more affectionately referred to as “Buddhy.” Ugh.

Buddhy is cultural appropriation at its most flagrant. Zendesk has taken Buddhist iconography, particularly that of Budai, and repackaged it as an integral component of their brand asset portfolio. What’s worse is that when you flip through their social media stream, ZenDesk employees repeatedly play on Oriental stereotypes and often put The Mentor in situations that many millions of Asian Buddhists would immediately perceive as blatant disrespect.

Zendesk has been parading their mascot around for years now. I’m amazed I didn’t learn about it until just this past weekend, especially since it seems so many other Buddhists have already been talking about it.

What do you think about Zendesk’s brand asset choice?

HT to Wanwan.


  1. UGH is right. I've totally seen these ads around when I used to live in SF. I think the slogan is also quite interesting. If this is "the new face of customer service", what was the old face?

  2. Don't identify by what you see.

  3. So much facepalm here.... ugh is right.

  4. Couldn't agree more; tasteless and offensive. Smacks of using blackface Mammies in your ads.

  5. Name any advertising that isn't tasteless and offensive. That is the standard. Bombing innocents is far more offensive. This doesn't even register as a sound.

  6. So unless children are getting killed, we shouldn't care? What an ass-hat. I've heard this argument used against feminists, too, a million times.


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