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Burger King Pulls Mary J. Blige Chicken Wrap Commercial

Burger King pulled a commercial starring R&B singer Mary J. Blige following controversy over her appearance and the context of the food advertised.

The fast-food chain said it discontinued the commercial April 3 due to music licensing concerns, not because of the widespread criticism it received from African-Americans, according to the Associated Press.

The ad was released the week of April 2 and features Blige singing the ingredients of the restaurant's new chicken wrap sandwich. The video quickly went viral upon its release and raised a few eyebrows in the Black community.

Janell Hazelwood, a columnist for business publication Black Enterprise, wrote that the commercial 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."

Renay Alize of Madam Noire, a website focused on Black women, wrote to Blige directly.

"You still have so much more to contribute to the arts and entertainment game that there was no reason for you to stoop to stereotypes," she wrote. "And I know what you're thinking, everybody across the world loves chicken. It's true, most people get down with the poultry; but as a Black woman, singing passionately about chicken is not the move!"

The commercial was pulled off the air and was removed from Burger King's YouTube channel. A spokeswoman for the company told the AP that the ad was removed because of a licensing concern and would return to the air soon. The rep would not say whether the commercial would remain in its original form when re-released.

The Burger King spokeswoman said other celebrities such as Jay Leno and Salma Hayak are also advertising the chicken wraps.

The new ads are part of the restaurant's comprehensive media push to advertise its new menu items, according to Adage.com. Burger King executives hope new food items including smoothies, wraps, frappes and salads will bring the company out of a lengthy slump.

"The big challenge is how do you really grab people's attention? And most of all, how do you get them to taste the product," Alex Macedo, Burger King senior VP of North America Marketing, told Adage. "We chose celebrities to get people's attention faster and to show the diversity that we have with our brand."

 

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