Mary J. Blige’s Burger King Ad: A Whopper of a Controversy

mary j. bligeMary J. Blige may want to stay away from fast food advertising for the time being. Burger King has pulled an ad featuring the R&B superstar singing the praises of the fast-food chain’s new chicken snack wraps after critics in the African-American community complained it was playing off racist stereotypes.

The controversial commercial has already been wiped from Burger King’s Youtube channel, but the wonderful world of the Internet has managed to preserve it for posterity’s sake (click here to see the video).

The 30 second ad shows the nine-time Grammy winner crooning the recipe for the franchise’s latest tasty treat — “Crispy chicken, fresh lettuce, three cheeses, ranch dressing wrapped up in a tasty flour tortilla” — which drew unsettling reactions from a number of African-American media personalities.

Black Enterprise columnist Janell Hazelwood wrote that the endorsement did “damage” to Blige’s brand and “reminded many of us that stereotypes of dancing, singing, and chicken-loving black people still remain prevalent in the hearts and minds of advertisers.”

Meanwhile, Jayson Rodriguez — the Executive Editor of hip-hop magazine XXL — also appeared confused by the message Blige was trying to portray. “Just saw the Mary J. Blige/Burger King commercial for the first time,” he tweeted. “Confused. Where’s the Funny or Die! bumper at the end of the clip?”

However, in the wake of the online backlash, Burger King issued a statement to Gawker claiming it pulled the commercial on technical grounds only. The statement read as follows: “The Mary J. Blige advertisement has been pulled due to a licensing issue. BURGER KING expects to have the Blige ads back on air soon.”

The 41-year-old singer isn’t the only celeb to highlight specific BK menu items. David Beckham, Jay Leno and Salma Hayek have also gotten in on the BK advertising act.


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[Gawker, Black Enterprise]