BK Says Blige Ad Pulled Because of Licensing Issue, Will Resurface

Consumers Complain Ad Deals in Racial Stereotypes and Is Simply Bad

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Burger King is not backing away from a new ad featuring Mary J. Blige singing about chicken, despite some complaints that it feeds into stereotypes.

The ad, which can still be seen here, featured Ms. Blige dressed in leather and wearing sunglasses belting out a song about "crispy chicken, fresh lettuce, three cheeses." The spot was originally posted on Burger King's YouTube channel Monday, but by Tuesday morning it was gone, fueling speculation across the internet that it was pulled for good. Not so, Burger King told Ad Age through a spokeswoman.

A new Burger King spot featuring Mary J . Blige is under fire.
A new Burger King spot featuring Mary J . Blige is under fire.
"The Mary J. Blige advertisement was pulled off of the Burger King YouTube channel due to a music-licensing issue, which Burger King is in the process of resolving. We expect to have the ads back up and on air soon," according to the statement. "Burger King enlisted a diverse cast of A-list celebrities representing the many faces of the American melting pot. Mary J. Blige is just one of the celebrities helping to promote our new menu items, including Garden Fresh Salads, Snack Wraps, Crispy Chicken Strips, Real Fruit Smoothies and Frappes."

The statement did not describe the nature of the licensing issue. Even if these issues are cleared up, the fast feeder and the ad's star will still be faced with the criticism that , at best, the ad is awful and, at worst, it plays into racial stereotypes. The controversy has fueled negative publicity for both parties, raising questions about how long the relationship will last.

Questions arose on websites such as clutchmagonline.com, described as an online magazine for black women. "The stereotype about black folks loving chicken is hundreds of years old, yet it seems more rampant in fast-food advertising of the past few years than ever before," the magazine said in a post today. "We clearly have larger issues to worry about than the proliferation of old myths, but when a legitimate commercial seems to mirror itself after a spoof of its own subgenre, there's a problem."

Danielle Young, writing for hellobeautiful.com, described as an "African-American woman's online lifestyle guide," wrote earlier today that "all the backlash must have made Mary feel like the April fool because Burger King has pulled the ad." But, she added, "I'm not offended at all -- I think it's kind of funny."

The ad, by Mother , New York, is part of a larger campaign that uses a host of expensive celebrities, including Jay Leno, David Beckham, Steven Tyler and Sofia Vergara to push salads, chicken wraps, smoothies, frappes and other new food items described as the fast-feeder's biggest menu expansion in its 58-year history. Ms. Vergara, a Columbian actress, "dons a BK uniform and spices up the kitchen, making Garden Fresh Salad and Real Fruit Smoothies in Spanish-language ads," according to a Burger King press release published yesterday that describes the campaign.

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