UPDATE: Burger King Pulls Chicken Ad, But Damage to Mary J. Blige Brand Already Done

We all make mistakes. Here are a few suggestions for a better brand move

This is the screen you'll see if you're looking for the infamous Mary J. Blige chicken wraps commercials.

Though the damage (to Mary’s J. Blige’s brand) has already been done, the infamous Burger King chicken wraps ad featuring the mega-platinum star has mysteriously disappeared from the fast food chain’s YouTube (and thus can’t be easily obtained elsewhere).

(Reportedly, the commercial was removed due to “copyright issues,” a notion I give an even stronger side-eye to as well.)

If you were recently searching for it, you’d have to rely on Web, co-worker and family accounts of its ridiculousness. (We actually found it on another site here.)

The television spot, which featured Blige singing the ingredients to chicken wraps in a song reminiscent of a Top 40 hit (as a comical group of patrons Bankhead Bounce and Raise the Roof), had many reactions — mostly negative — from raised eyebrows to utter disgust, 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.

Not only that, but it’s to be noted that late-night talk show host Jay Leno and oh-so-fine soccer superstar David Beckham both have recent Burger King commercials, yet those do not include them making a mockery of their brands. (So you won’t see Beckham dancing around, doing foot tricks with nuggets, nor will you see Jay Leno singing any ditties.)

At this point, I just wonder what — if any — real response Burger King will have about this, and more importantly, what’s behind Blige’s thinking?

I could think of a few better ways she could have been featured:

1. Maybe in the drive-through, playing her own songs of which she’d like to promote and maybe adding a funny quip that references something she’s known for.

2. What about her being in the LINE herself behind the guy holding up the line asking what’s in the wraps, and some funny quip there.

3. What about anything but her popping up in the middle of a restaurant doing an impromptu performance that seemed like it should’ve been a skit on Saturday Night Live.

Mary, I still love you, girl. We all make mistakes. Let’s just chalk this up as a slip in judgment.

  • Kingston Xaviar

    Coonery buffoonery at it’s finest. What Mary J really eat a slice of the devil’s pie.

  • Kingston Xaviar

    ^^^^^^^ correction….”Mary J really eat WAS a slice”

  • marfmellow

    hey! I’m actually hosting the video on my blog here: http://marfmellow.com/post/20390649644/her-hand-gestures-while-she-sings-though

  • Sushi

    God, Barfmellow, you really are an attention whore.

  • Bernard

    Burger King’s advertising has stunk for about the past 20 years (or more) if anyone has paid attention. Through several ad agencies and lots of different campaigns, they have struggled to hit on a concept that works. The problem appears to be systemic.

    • I’m still confused/perplexed by the fact that Jay Leno and David Beckham’s ads had no issues. Even Selma Hayek’s ad, which was in Spanish, was funny and seemed to align with her brand.

      If the people behind approving such an ad are not to blame, I scratch my head again pondering “What was Mary’s people thinking?” I want to give her the benefit of the doubt and say that maybe, in the conceptualizing process, she never thought the end product would be that commercial.

  • Kevin Craig West

    Anybody watched Spike Lee’s BAMBOOZLED lately? That should be required viewing to everyone in the industry.

  • Darrkman

    I work in the ad industry and this is a direct result of the lack of people of color working at agencies. It takes a lot of layers for a ad to go from concept to a point where its filmed. To go through that many layers and not have one person raise their hand and ask “Why are we having the only Black person in our campaign singing about chicken?” tells you a lot. I won’t even go into the fact that every other spot with foot touches on multiple food products (salad AND chicken).

    • gwen

      @Darrkman, you have beuna to tell part of story here. Also need to consider the direction MJB’s managment was given as well. Having made great choices for her with QVC and Chevrolet, just a bit perplexed why her managagement found the BK opportunity as appropriate for her. A mis-step for sure but one the MJB brand will surely recover from.

    • Darrkman would you be willing to go on record about this? We’d love to get the inside advertising insight discussing why this may have been done or even the process that goes into approving and releasing commercials/ad campaigns for minorities.

  • HypnotiqOne

    Overreaction. Point blank. And BE has bought into the hype. Furthermore, I’d like to think that Mary’s brand is much bigger than a 30 sec BK spoof. Chevrolet and QVC, much? And I do think that Salma Hayek and Beckham poked fun at their own “brands” in the BK ads as well, ie. Salma’s buffoonish telenovela characters and Beckham’s “sex symbol” vs athlete dichotomy. Perhaps an advertising roll out mistake here and there, but not the brou ha ha that’s being sold here. And besides, BK acted swiftly in turning down the heat any way. Internet be damned.

  • HolUp

    i hope the Popeyes lady is next

    • Robert Thompson

      I like the sista on the Popeyes chicken ads. Maybe because i love their chicken.

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  • TonyaA6


  • cra

    What’s the BIG DEAL about a black person advertising/singing about CHICKEN???

    We need to get over this. I LOVE chicken. I’m black sooo what???

    We have to STOP being soo sensitive and playing right into the hands of the BIGOTS

    • Hi Cra. Thanks for commenting. Just to clarify: The holistic point isn’t about the chicken fingers and is not solely based on racial issues. It’s about branding. The positioning just doesn’t align with the business legacy she seemed to have been building. Here’s a link to the original piece expressing my issue being mostly with the branding decision, not the racial implications: http://www.blackenterprise.com/2012/04/02/brandingwhy-mary-j-blige-in-a-chicken-commercial-is-not-a-good-look/

      • WW


        Isn’t it Mary J. Blige’s decision to make? So what if you don’t think it fits with her “brand”? Whatever reason she had for doing the commercial, they are her reasons.

        Is it a *good* commercial? That’s debatable, but all this hand wringing over whether she’s damaging her brand is utterly ridiculous.

        I doubt there will be many viewers of this commercial that will suddenly turn away from her “brand”. It’s a commercial for goodness sake!

        • Hi WW. Seeing as how this publication is a business site which examines trends that affect businesses and brands, that is the focus. It’s very important to look at the bigger picture of how one move could affect one’s entire brand perception because that in turn affects influence and dollars. I understand your doubt, however many fans would disagree. For example, it certainly did not help MC Hammer’s brand when he appeared dancing in a popcorn chicken commercial. The point of an effective endorsement is to both help the agenda of the company being endorsed AND the talent endorsing it. Also, with Mary J. Blige’s admission and apology about the commercial, there’s even more evidence that discerning whether something fits into one’s brand agenda is vital to one’s livelihood in their industry.

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  • Nikki

    I cant believe people are mad at Mary J. Blige for this commerical becasue of coonery?!! Now I can see them saying it was wack, but to say she sold out for doing this is stupid, what Mary did was called branding. If Brittany Spears or Christina song this, this wouldn’t be an isue, but because she’s black it is, come on now its not like she was holding a piece of watermelon in her hand. An easy 2million check cashed for 30 seconds, gone head Mary, with your pickles onions, fresh lettuce, 2 cheeses, french dressing its catchy and she used the beat to her song on her new album so I support it!

  • LO

    Are we ok with McDonald’s and their blatant exploitation of / expert marketing to (u decide) the black population? No one ever mentions it (in the media) but it is clear as day. Is that ok because it’s not a famous person? Would it be better if this campaign included only David Beckham and Jay Leno? Or would that also be a problem because they are male and white? Are black people not allowed to eat chicken because it may solidify a stereotype? And if we are going to fight stereotypes could we but our effort into something bigger and more significant than chicken? Really?

    I don’t think your solutions make sense. The girl sings…I mean she SANGS. That is her brand. That is what she is known for. None of your suggestions would solve the issue u have with the commercial which is the chicken right? Having black person and chicken share the same commercial is the issue right? Can’t we all just eat chicken in peace? Really?

    Really. Let’s put time and energy (and media spotlight…that includes u dear) on fighting stereotypes that have much more substance. And the fighting doesn’t happen by pointing fingers at other populations or races and what they are doing to prolong black stereotypes. It starts within the black community. It has to. Chicken is really the least of our worries here. Stop pointing fingers and ask yourself what u can do, yourself to fight stereotypes. We all need to do that.

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  • John Gallant

    So Black Enterprise is saying 2 things by condemning this Burger King ad…

    1. We need hits on our website to make our advertisers happy.
    2. Mary J. Blige is an ignorant black woman that can’t think for herself.

    Frankly, that’s a lot more offensive than the ad itself! Is that what you intended Janell?

    • Hi Mr. Gallant. Thanks for commenting.
      1. Did you read this post in full? Also did you read the previous post … in full?
      2. Do you recognize that media is a business as well, and that healthy discourse is what journalism is founded on and all about?
      3. Does it say in the piece that “Mary J. Blige is an ignorant black woman who can’t think for herself?”
      I respect your opinion, however, based on this comment, it seems to be founded on not fully understanding the point of what I wrote.

  • @TheAinzlee

    I don’t see a thing wrong with the ad… total overreaction

  • Kenneth

    I couldn’t get past the “oh-so-fine” comment. Too unprofessional!

  • Blakjaxx

    MJB’s response is that she didn’t sign off on the ad, but she did get up there and sing the words and film the commercial. She didn’t think about this when she read the script how this would come off?

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  • Succesful Sim

    This has all gone toooooo far!! Mary J. Bilge is a seasoned and savvy entertainer. She would not enter into a venture that would damage her brand or offend fellow African Americans. People just like blowing things out of proportion. Everyone needs to stop it!

  • S

    Are you kidding me right now ? I think the African American Coummunity needs to calm down. If you pay attention African Americans have been segregating themselves for decades just look how there is BET ( Black TV ), look at all the ” Black Universities/ Colleges in the states” and not to mention Jamie Fox always preaching about ” Black Star Power “….. And you blame society for this … stop trying to play the race card on everything. Its childish and pathetic. Grow up !!!! Evolve !!!!!

    • LO

      Agreed. Thank you.

      This article merely furthers the black community’s own desire to be separte but equal. Why? Why must black separate themselves and then blame it on the every-body-who-is-NOT-black community? We can’t have it both ways. Time to stop pointing finger and placing blame on others for what the black community (leaders and media) does to themselves. Time to CHOOSE not to play the victim card. It’s gotten old and does nothing for true equality. Certainly does nothing to break through stenotypes that are far more dangerous that eating fried chicken.

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  • Pieareround

    So, now she DOESN’T like singing and dancing? Isn’t that what made her popular? Do you like to sing and dance?  I do and I’m Native American. Mary and I also like chicken. The only color that mattered to her was green. Jay Leno and David Beckham didn’t gain their popularity as singers-dancers. Neither did Salma Hayek, who did a movie star/sex goddess parody with no references to her Hispanic roots. Had Mary done that commercial you would now be calling her a stereo typical slut. When it’s not about your race or stereotyping you try to turn it into that. Stop making yourself into victims. You spend too much time and energy making yourself look better by tearing other people down rather than bringing yourself up. This “news” is just more pathetic sniping and back stabbing. Your envy is showing, but don’t be too upset. If the singing/dancing/commercial thing doesn’t work out for Mary she can always get a job as a bitter blogger.

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