The ad depicts a white Australian cricket fan subduing boisterous black West Indian fans by sharing his fried chicken.
“Need a tip when you’re stuck in an awkward situation?” the Australian asks. “Too easy,” he adds after the West Indian supporters surrounding him give up their celebrating to eat his KFC.
The spot, which foreshadows a much-anticipated clash between the two fiercely competitive cricketing nations, ran for three weeks without raising a ripple of complaint in Australia.
But when the ad spread via the Internet to the United States, some complained it played on a derogatory stereotypes of black Americans. Minstrel shows, which portrayed demeaning caricatures of blacks in the 19th and early 20th century, often showed them eating fried chicken.
There is no such association in Australia.
“These people, they’re so unruly and uncivilized and so rowdy, jumping up and down,” U.S. radio announcer Ana Kasparian said, in her criticism. “They just can’t sit down unless you give them some … fried chicken.”
KFC, which is a sponsor of cricket in Australia, said in a statement on Thursday the ad was meant “tongue-in-check.”
“We have been made aware that a KFC commercial being shown on Australian television has apparently caused offense, particularly in the United States, after a copy of the commercial was reproduced online without KFC’s permission,” the Louisville, Ky.-based company said.
“While we believe this lighthearted commercial has been well understood by Australian cricket fans, to avoid the possibility of any further offense being caused by the advertisement either here or online overseas, KFC will cease running the commercial immediately,” it added.
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