Support for LAist comes from
We Explain L.A.
Stay Connected

Share This

This is an archival story that predates current editorial management.

This archival content was written, edited, and published prior to LAist's acquisition by its current owner, Southern California Public Radio ("SCPR"). Content, such as language choice and subject matter, in archival articles therefore may not align with SCPR's current editorial standards. To learn more about those standards and why we make this distinction, please click here.

Food

"Racist" Burger King Ad With Mary J. Blige Singing About Chicken Gets Yanked

Today on Giving Tuesday, we need you.
Dear reader, we're asking you to help us keep local news available for all today on Giving Tuesday. Your financial support keeps our stories free to read, instead of hidden behind paywalls AND will be matched dollar-for-dollar! Let your support for reliable local reporting be amplified by this special matching opportunity. Thank you for investing in your neighborhood.

Indignant viewers of a brand new Burger King ad starring R&B diva Mary J. Blige singing about their Crispy Chicken Snack Wrap have prompted the fast food chain to yank the ad.

It's not necessarily that Blige was promoting unhealthy eating, or an unpopular restaurant, but rather that many believed she was promoting a cultural stereotype about eating chicken. Well, they thought the ad was "racist," to be precise.

In the ad, as described by MTV News, Blige is seen standing on a table belting out lyrics to the tune of her song "Don't Mind," about the chicken sandwich: “Crispy chicken, fresh lettuce, three cheeses, ranch dressing, wrapped up in a tasty flour tortilla," she sings.

The ad has been taken off the air and YouTube, but we found this copy:

Support for LAist comes from

Even an industry insider was disturbed that BK didn't mind having the "Don't Mind" crooner wax rhapsodic about what is basically fried chicken:

Hip-hop branding expert and CEO of Translation, Steve Stoute, who has worked with Blige closely on successful endorsement deals like Carol’s Daughter beauty products, shared his disdain. [Tuesday] he tweeted, “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.”

Not surprisingly, Burger King offers a totally different reason for the ad's swift removal from the airwaves and their YouTube channel. KTLA reports:

[T]he chain insists that a music licensing issue, and not the criticism, was behind its decision to pull the commercial. Burger King says it hopes to have the Blige ads back on the air soon.

A company spokesperson would not comment on whether the ads would be the same.


Some may have not necessarily felt Blige was doing her culture wrong by singing about chicken, but others thought it cheapened her image. Another objection is that Blige was portrayed as "rude, terse, and invasive, " notes Thembisa Mshaka, adding: "She interrupts the store manager with a sound-check type mic squeal-from ATOP a restaurant table."

Burger King is rumored to have paid Blige $2 million for the spot; they've also reportedly signed other high profile celebs to hawk new menu items, including David Beckham and Sofia Vergara. (If they end up hawking fish and chips and tacos, respectively, the peanut gallery may have been on to something, no?)