Mary J. Blige will always be known as the Queen of Hip-Hop Soul but her reputation has been – at the least – singed by her recent role in Burger King’s fried chicken wraps commercial. After an avalanche of online ridicule by viewers calling out long held stereotypes, the video has been removed from YouTube. But the criticism continues to grow.
In the spot, a Burger King manager asks Blige to explain to patrons what’s in the wraps. The place turns into a club atmosphere, Blige can be seen in the ad standing atop Burger King tables, singing the praises of the new Crispy chicken snack wraps. A group of kids start dancing, as do the customers.
“Crispy chicken, fresh lettuce, three cheeses, ranch dressing wrapped up in a tasty, flour tortilla,” the nine-time Grammy winner croons.
The ad was part of a new celebrity-driven Burger King campaign designed to revive the fast food brand, that has fallen to second behind Wendy’s, a recent report said. Mary J. Blige was not the only celebrity on hand to shill for BK. Jay Leno, David Beckham, Salma Hayek, Sofia Vergara and Steven Tyler also dropped commercials.
While Tyler also “gets things rocking for Crispy Chicken Strips,” according to the press release announcing the campaign, much of the criticism surrounding Mary’s performance has to do with stereotypes concerning black people and fried chicken.
In usual pile-on fashion, the Twitterverse reacted with scorn. The most notable critique came from Steve Stoute, founder of Translation, an advertising company that built a reputation for marrying hip-hop culture and Wall Street in an authentic way.
The issue is the burger king commercial is thT these agencies visit culture and then do work that is so in authentic it’s embarrassing
— Steve Stoute (@SteveStoute) April 3, 2012
While many speculate that Mary J. Blige’s spot had been removed by BK execs in an attempt to dampen the controversy, the company representative released a statement to CBS Local.
“The Mary J. Blige advertisement has been pulled due to a licensing issue,” the statement said. “BURGER KING® expects to have the Blige ads back on air soon.”
Blige has not released a statement regarding her involvement in the ad. Judging by the reaction to the removal, fans will be starving for more information for days to come. See video [here]. –Erik Parker, CBS Local