After catching a lot of heat for what many perceive to be its racist overtones, a Burger King commercial starring Mary J. Blige has been taken off the air.
The ad, which debuted this week and reportedly earned Blige a cool $2 million, features the R&B star soulfully singing the virtues of the fast-food chain’s new chicken wrap. (Jay Leno, David Beckham, and Selma Hayek appear in similar ads as part of a larger attempt to rebrand the fast-food giant).
In the clip — see it here — MJB, clad in a black leather jacket and shades, stands in a disco-lit BK franchise and croons, “Crispy chicken, fresh lettuce, three cheeses, ranch dressing wrapped up in a tasty… flour… tortilla.”
While the company released a statement saying “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,” some see it as a confirmation of the ad’s negative stereotypes.
The blog Madame Noir criticized Blige’s performance as “buffoonish,” and ad writer Thembisa S. Mshaka says the issue stems from “the tone-deaf representation of black women in advertising” that perpetuates “the stank, sassy, abrasive but entertaining ‘soul sista’ ” stereotype.
Mshaka goes on to compare Blige’s Burger King ad with those of her peers: