We here at 40 Acres and a Cubicle like to think we can analyze the place Black culture has in America. We try to critique the majority’s perception of our people, while hoping to find some common ground; some teachable moment in the complex interplay of a downtrodden people and their one-time oppressors. This post is not about all the shit I just mentioned. This post is about chicken.
We’ve had a long and storied history writing about chicken. My co-author came down on one side of the issue. Then, again, FiveFifths tackled the nexus of Black America and fried bits of bird in yet another post, this time involving a television commercial. Hell, we even have an entire category dedicated to Gallus Gallus Domesticus on our blog. Yet corporate America continues to give us reasons to scratch our heads, rise up in arms, and tell the world that Blacks will continue to reject the stereotype of the chicken-loving coon whose heart fills will glee, mouth fills with song, and gets-to dancing at the very mention of some food product derived from chicke . . .
Damn you Burger King!
You’ve taken one of the most prolific RnB singers of our generation and turned her into a shill for your probably delicious-tasting chicken wrap. [not even gonna front, the shit is probably good] How could you not expect backlash from this? You got Mary rapping on a fucking table in a Burger King about a chicken wrap. Lets examine the elements of this travesty of modern advertising so that the disdain of Black America that led to this ad being pulled from the airwaves can be understood.
1. I know every company wants to portray itself positively. But let’s be honest. Neither you nor I have ever been in a Burger King that looks that nice. The first shot is the store, in some idyllic town in Middle America. Parking lot pristine. The sun gently rising over the horizon. When we all know in reality, most Burger Kings are a step above I-95 rest stop gas station bathrooms in terms of cleanliness. In fact, I’ve been in some Burger Kings that look like the bathroom from the first Saw film.
2. The next on my list of near-impossibility is the attractive girl of ambiguous ethnicity taking your order, of course, she can’t be too attractive, so we’ll give her black framed glasses to tone it down. And then we’ll have the polite manager of the franchise behind the counter as well.
She could be Asian. She could be Hispanic. But she aint Black. She’s innocuous. She’s inoffensive. Him: The manager with the short-sleeved dress shirt and tastefully dimpled tie. Let’s be real here folks, pretty women don’t work at fast food restaurants. They just don’t. The manager is more likely in the back in the office figuring out a way to clandestinely change the expiration date on the milkshake mix just enough so that he doesn’t have to throw it out. It’s the next scene that injects a bit of flava into the ad, you know, to begin roping in the colored folk.
3. Enter: Black women.
One older, with short, perhaps natural hair. [I always laugh at the term natural . . . as opposed to synthetic? Supernatural?] One younger, complete with Beats by Dre headphones on. Because, I know I always refuse to take my over-the-ear headphones off when I go into establishments to place my food order. Of course it had to be a White man ordering and asking the content of the chicken wrap. Seriously though, he asks what’s in the wrap. What’s in a chicken wrap, B? Well, after narrowing it down from paté de foie gras I’d think that it’s probably CHICKEN, but that’s just me.
Scene: Conference Table in BK Headquarters. Chief of U.S. Marketing at head of conference table, BK Executives flanking him
Chief: “So after the White guy asks what’s in it we have [drumroll on table with pencils] Nine-time Grammy award-winning RnB songstress Mary J Blige standing atop a table rapping the contents of the wrap”
White Executives: “WONDERFUL idea Ted, that’s GOLD, just GOLD.”
Single Black Executive:
4. Mary makes her entrance. In all her ethnic glory. Rapping to an insufferable beat the contents of the wrap whilst the aforementioned white patrons seize intermittently to the some unknown rhythm. I guess it could have been worse. It could have been Flava Flav. It could have been Ludacris. He had an album titled “Chicken and Beer.” Instead they chose an RnB singer to rap the contents of a chicen wrap. Reports are that Mary got a couple Million to endorse this product. I can’t knock the hustle.
Naturally Black America was up in arms about the reinforcing of stereotypes the ad represented. Burger King at first said it pulled the ad due to licensing issues. Now they are saying that the ad was unfinished and was released too soon. Apparently the rap concert was meant to be a dream sequence. Oh? Because legions of Black Americans actually thought impromptu rap concerts were breaking out in Burger Kings across America? Right. Gotcha.
Burger King’s final appeal to Black America:
“[W]e would like to apologize to Mary J. and all of her fans [All of Black America?] for airing an ad that was not final. We know how important Mary J. is to her fans, and we are currently in the process of finalizing the commercial. We hope to have the final ad on the air soon.”
I can’t wait for the finished product.