Daily D’oh: Mary J. Blige’s “Crispy Chicken” Burger King Ad

Mary, Mary, Mary… two words: I can’t.

Burger King partnered with Mary J. Blige as part of its efforts to advertise the chain’s expanded menu options, which includes the new crispy chicken snack wraps.

I’ll let you watch this before I say anything else:

Citing licensing issues, Burger King pulled the commercial from the airwaves shortly after it premiered this week, denying any connection with social media backlash calling the ad “racist” and “stereotypical.”

I, for one, cackled like a hyena watching this ad. Mary is known for hard-hitting, no nonsense hits like “No More Drama,” “Not ‘Gon Cry” and “I’m Goin’ Down.” So hearing her sing something as bland and inane as “crispy chicken, fresh lettuce, three cheeses…” over a hip hop beat is just mind boggling.

But as they say: “Hey, must be the money!” One of the most soulful R&B singers of our time was reportedly paid as much as $2 million… for this?

Burger King’s ad might very well be a cleverly coded appeal to the African-American market for the new product since lots of us folk (yes, black folks) love fried chicken. It’s a racial stereotype and on the whole it isn’t false, but it’s dangerous for folks who don’t know how to separate stereotyping from reality or otherwise use them to mock and denigrate a group of people.

One classic example – I remember some of my friends circulating the photo of Chinese restaurant Obama Fried Chicken, and cringing when I saw the photo:

So instead of promoting fried chicken, something a lot of people enjoy regardless of race, the food has been racialized due to some horrible stereotyping. Would this ad lose its current meaning if another prominent figure (not black) was at at the forefront? Clearly, it would. Who would pay attention to, say, Ellen Fried Chicken?

And I can’t help but think the same when I look at the Burger King ad. Could you imagine how flat the commercial would be if someone like Ke$ha was singing the chicken wrap’s praises?  It’d have been a big BK waste of cash, just like Mary’s commercial.

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2 thoughts on “Daily D’oh: Mary J. Blige’s “Crispy Chicken” Burger King Ad

    • The reactions at the end are priceless – I think that’s Neil Patrick Harris giving us the “hey, it’s ok” jovial look while the black folks (on the whole) are stunned. The last scene of that commercial blew me away… now this was outrageous mockery and buffoonery, whereas Mary’s ad wasn’t so much. It was just very poorly done, which I think reminds folks of caricatures like the one from the video (or even back from minstrelsy).

      I wrote a column about this in today’s Daily Northwestern, and I’ll repost that on here soon.

      Thanks,
      Derrick

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