The ad was broadcast only in Australia but an online viral clip was beamed around the world, causing offence as far away as America.
It depicts a single white Australian cricket fan surrounded by a group of black West Indian supporters who are singing and dancing and playing drums.
In an apparent move to placate them, he offers up a bargain bucket of fried chicken before pulling a smug grin and uttering the words “too easy”.
Though seen as harmless in Australia, the linking of black people and fried chicken is seen as a hackneyed racial slur in the US.
One online commentator, Jack Shepherd of BuzzFeed, asked: "What’s a white guy to do when he finds himself in a crowd full of black folks? KFC has the answer."
But KFC Australia is refusing to back down and in a statement released to the press hinted that the unflattering racial stereotype has no place outside the US.
The company said: "The ad was reproduced online in the US without KFC’s permission, where we are told a culturally-based stereotype exists, leading to the incorrect assertion of racism.”
Who do you think is right? To be fair, we’re talking about a company that sells fried chicken here. It doesn’t have a lot of wiggle room.
If you follow the detractors’ argument to its natural conclusion the suggestion seems to be that because of a false and outdated association KFC shouldn’t show black people enjoying its product, which seems absurd.
Either way, the controversy is huge PR for the fast food chain (there are so far today 200 articles on the subject). Whether it’s ultimately good or bad PR remains to be seen.
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