Should this advert have been pulled?

Australia have scrapped this advert for KFC amid accusations of racial insensitivity. There were complaints from the U.S. that the film plays on what they see as a negative racial stereotype – linking black people with a love of fried chicken. Even though the commercial features West Indies cricket fans.

KFC have apologised, saying the commercial was meant to be “light-hearted” and any offence was “unintended”.

The blogosphere weren’t slow to pick this up. This blogger says it is racist and posts an old KFC advert he finds just as offensive. (This link contains strong language). On a different tip, this blogger says everyone should “get the hell over it, … this ad was meant for Australian audiences, who aren’t as saddled with guilt as we Yanks are over this matter.” Brendan O’Connor, assistant professor at the University of Sydney told Australian broadcaster 9 Network News that the fried chicken stereotype is a US only issue. He says Americans “have a tendency to think that their history is more important than that of other countries.”

A poll on New York daily news website shows 69% of people find the advert “lighthearted and fun”, whilst 27% say it “plays on stereotypes”.

So what’s your take? Are the people who don’t like it being too touchy? Where do you draw the line when it comes to cultural sensitivities?

43 Responses to “Should this advert have been pulled?”

  1. 1 Admiral Akbar
    January 8, 2010 at 20:37

    There is nothing offensive about this ad. And even if there was, YOU do not have a right NOT to be offended.

    Get over yourselves people. We have bigger issues to deal with at the moment, don’t you think?

  2. 2 JanB
    January 8, 2010 at 21:05

    Americans should stop seeking a racial explanation behind everything they see.
    Besides the fact that I honestly cannot find anything racist in this commercial, Americans who do can not just call Australia racist without understanding that country’s culture and history.

    A white man handing out KFC to West Indies cricket fans is not considered racist in Australia, not even by black people in Australia, the same way the “zwarte pieten” who accompany Saint Nicholas in the Netherlands are not considered racist by black Dutchmen.

    No one would have said anything if it was a black man handing out KFC to white British cricket fans, that just goes to show how silly this all is.

  3. 3 stephen/portland
    January 8, 2010 at 21:14

    Nothing wrong with this!

    This is a stereotype in the United States only, and also the guy in the commercial is at a cricket match and a supporter of the opposing team in the wrong stand…. GET IT!

    My good friend in Melbourne made me aware of this when it was first broadcasted and in his E-mail he wondered how long it would take to get shelved.

    Australia is not as sensitive as some countries. “Thank goodness”

    There is an advert on the telly for oil that’s broadcast with some daft git in a red wig and heavy Scots accent-assaulting people with a dipstick. It’s totally insulting!
    AND I LOVE IT!!!!

    Get a grip.

  4. 4 D in Indiana
    January 8, 2010 at 21:51

    Australia is batting 2 for 2 on these absolutely blatant racial insensitivities.With an Aboriginal population oppressed like the 19th Century American South, it’s no surprise Australians wouldn’t find this offensive. I think a parody about an island full of thieves and criminals is well due for World audiences in 2010.

  5. 5 patti in cape coral
    January 8, 2010 at 22:02

    I’m not sure which stereotype the advert was playing on, that black people like fried chicken, or that black people (from tropical areas, anyways) are fun loving and laid back. Either way, eating fried chicken and being laid back may be stereotypes, but they aren’t necessarily negative stereotypes. I’m not black, though, so my opinion probably means diddly.

    What I didn’t understand is where the guy in the commercial is saying that fried chicken will get you out of an awkward situation, and he didn’t appear to be in an awkward situation at all! On the contrary, he seemed to be in a crowd of very happy people having a good time, despite the fact that he was of a different race, and apparently rooting for a different team than everyone else. Actually, they barely seemed to be noticing him at all.

  6. 6 steve
    January 8, 2010 at 22:29

    While I think that would NEVER be shown in the USA, I don’t think the views of Americans should be given too much consideration in another nation, though some. I have seen some really offensive things in other nations, where they considered foreign opinions, like a Nazi themed clothing store ad campaign in China years ago…..

    Australia has a terrible history regarding their own aboriginies so they are not exactly innocent angels themselves. I’m sure there are plenty of commericials in other countries other languages that are offensive that we never hear about. It wasn’t really meant for our eyes. But we should have some say, but not a final say.

  7. 7 Donnamarie in Switzerland
    January 8, 2010 at 22:52

    I come from a racially mixed family. Decendants of African American slaves, a Scottish-Nigerian contingent, two branches of Latinos, a Filipino wing.

    I watched the clip in question three times and was unable to discern any racial slur. So the people in the clip liked chicken.

    EVERYBODY likes chicken. Get over it.

  8. January 8, 2010 at 22:58

    I’m in aussie just now and could’nt see now’t wrong with this or any of the any other KFC ads.that were going on ;are people so narrow minded ?

  9. 9 StGermain
    January 8, 2010 at 23:06

    Pulled? I’m bloody well surprised that it was made in the first place!
    Absolutely! Totally different story if you saw an ethnic mix, but the
    seemingly 99% Black population background makes the racist overtones
    quite obvious.

    Given Australia’s history of treatment of the indigenous population,
    and recent public apologies for the related programmes from that
    past era, this kind of advert is even more shocking to see having
    been green-lighted and produced.



  10. 10 Gary Smith
    January 8, 2010 at 23:50

    I’m an expat scot living in Australia. I am disgusted by this and wont be eating KFC again.

    My reason ? not because of the nature of this advert, but because its been pulled.

    Australia is in the middle of cricket season, which KFC have always heavily advertised on. I WOULD BE AMAZED if the (more than likely) Australian advertising company who produced the ad thought for one minute ” Lets have a swipe at the blacks in America’s deep south”.

    Only the hyper sensitive americans could read something into an ad like this, WHICH DOESNT SHOW IN THEIR COUNTRY !!!!!!

    Incidently, assuming that KFC are actualy allowed to advertise their product, how are they to go about it without supposedly stereotyping the southern blacks ? do they need to go to extremes and have a bunch of guys on horseback with white hoods on tucking into the family bucket ?

    Well I for one am off to start a one man protest outside Burger King out here in Melbourne, as they are selling a burger just now called an Angry Angus . The ad shows blokes playing bag pipes, with a ginger haired scot ( Angus I assume) shouting and being angry . I’m offended ! ( yeah right,if I was a bloody idiot like half of America)

  11. 11 tanboontee
    January 9, 2010 at 04:24

    Any material for public consumption (especially advertisement) with racial connotation is simply unacceptable if not derogative.

    Has the world not had enough racial conflicts?

  12. 12 Barry
    January 9, 2010 at 05:16

    No, there is nothing wrong with it. Lots of black people love fried chicken, lots of white people love fried chicken, lots of people of every race love fried chicken, me included. the political correctness in this day and age is utterly ridiculous.

  13. 13 jude,UK
    January 9, 2010 at 07:45

    after insult comes apology.

  14. 14 Will, British Columbia
    January 9, 2010 at 10:27

    Honestly its a little racist but not in a derogatory way. Personally I find that some of the best humour comes out of playing off of other stereotypes, race, sex, religion, age, it’s alright to be politcally incorrect sometimes, just as long as your having a laugh and keep it at that.

  15. 15 James Ian
    January 9, 2010 at 11:16

    Let’s see… Seems to me we here in the U.S. are never going to be able to get past this race thing. Not because we can’t, but because there is always going to be a group of people who don’t want to. They like being the victim or advocating the perceived racial victim, it serves them well. It serves some of them financially, some of them politicaly and some emotionaly and socially. People involved in groups like the ACLU and NAACP have to validate the need for their phony bolagna jobs. Politicians love using the race issue to forward their political agenda or aspirations. and lets face it there are black people out there that use racial discrimination as an excuse for not being all thay can be.
    You know we have a dark skinned presdent in this country now and there are still people out there that believe if you’re not white you will never get a fair shake in this country.

    January 9, 2010 at 12:12

    Racism will never dissappear as long as races exist. Sometimes racism is negative yes but most of the time it is not. There is no full consesus built about the race issue. Some people admire their own races while others admire the other race.
    There is nothing wrong with this add. I am black – not from the Americas and I love fried chicken more than boiled or raw chicken. Thats a fact and the removal of the add is waste of time and resources.

  17. 17 Ronald Almeida
    January 9, 2010 at 13:18

    Yes this ad should be taken of because its racist towards the chickens.

  18. 18 Josiah Soap
    January 9, 2010 at 13:32

    I guess this PC rubbish will never stop. The anti-racists are out there looking for racism under every bed, even when it doesn’t exist. These days everything is racist and racism is the worst crime a person can commit.

    KFC should have told people to go take a hike. The advert was nothing anti-black at all.

    Why do people never complain when whites, males or christians are openly and purposefully ridiculed? These sort of complaints which “alledge” some mistreatment or offence of some underclass do nothing at all to endear them to me, in fact quite the opposite. So yes for me the video has incited racism – by people complaining about it!

  19. 19 Andrew in Australia
    January 9, 2010 at 15:10

    No it should not have been pulled. There was nothing to be ashamed of nor to have apologised for. Even with cultural sensitivities considered I would ask those in the US who raised the issue, how does the KFC advert constitute racism? It is an ad for an international brand of fried chicken a US one at that. Their product is chicken and everyone eats chicken not just a stereotypical black American. It is set at a cricket ground where a match with a team that has toured here recently from the West Indies and where most of their fans are, face it, black. So in a spirit of friendliness a spectator offers fans from the opposing team some of this product. Where is the racism in that? Do those in the US even know about cricket or who represents national teams?

    Had the man offered jerked beef or a coconut then you can consider this unsavoury, but to have an outcry over this is just plain stupid. We in Australia seem to be quietly cringing as our politicians openly do and placate some who are pointing fingers at this nation. Australia should be standing up for itself especially when we have nothing to feel bad about rather than slinking off.

  20. 20 Andrew in Australia
    January 9, 2010 at 15:15

    On the point of Australia and race relations, in recent time there has been concern about crimes involving Indian nationals particularly in the southern state of Victoria and a tremendous beat up by Indian media outlets that this is a racist nation.

    Just the other day a cartoon was published in a newspaper which portrayed a Victoria police officer as a KKK member complete with white robe. Compared to a harmless advert for fast food, this IS an intentional racist slur of one of the best police forces around. Where is the outcry over this? Played down and of course our political leaders too afraid to dent the trade in students had done little more than act disappointed.

    It seems to me that any racist angle to an issue is intentionally made worse when it occurs in a western and predominantly white nation than blatant racism by a non-white nation as with India in this case.

  21. January 9, 2010 at 16:18

    Here we go again. We are are not allowed to state the facts or have a laugh about certain people incase we ‘offend’ them. But it’s always ok to have a pop at a white person. There are 5 chicken shops along my high street that are largely used by black children during school hours and black adults at night. These are no go places for the rest of us as there is always trouble outside – gangs and selling drugs etc. I reckon some wealthy middle class do-gooder is once again offended on behalf of black people. Thing is, middle class people do not live in my area so they do not have a clue what it’s like and what the other issues are too. Therefore people like me, who don’t like it are branded ‘racist’ for stating the facts and objecting to multi-culturalism.

    • January 9, 2010 at 16:38

      I agree with Anne. I live in East London and it is mainly black and Pakistani males who frequent the chicken places and there is always trouble. Of course some white people use them too but not on the same scale as non-whites. So how is this advert offensive?

      Although I am Jewish, I get on with life here instead of playing the victim like so many British black and Muslim people. I actually laugh at certain parts of my culture as does my wife (at both of us) who is a non-practising Hindu Indian women. She has felt that people have ridiculed the Hindu faith, however like most Hindus, she gets on with being British. It’s high time other people did too. If they really do not like living in Britain, they should live somewhere else.

  22. 23 Peter Gizzi UK
    January 9, 2010 at 16:20

    Perhaps I’m blind? I watched the video clip before I read the PC blurb. Saw no racism but didn’t find it funny either. I very occasionally use KFC and will continue to do so.

    Are there perhaps not more importants subjects to discuss like us freezing in Britain and how other countries deal with their own winters?

  23. January 9, 2010 at 17:40

    I’m relieved to find that it’s only mildly offensive to me. Specifically, (a) that he finds that to be ‘an awkward situation’ and (b) the words “too easy”.

    Compared with ads around the world which caricature/stereotype women, this is hardly anything in my opinion.

  24. 25 T
    January 9, 2010 at 19:22

    O’Conner’s wrong. If the States think that their problems are “more important than anybody else’s”, then why do they let them go on for so long?

    Also (assuming that he’s white), I guess he’s never been shot at, pulled over, profiled or tasered by the police? Just because of who he is? Who’s got the superiority problem?

  25. 26 T
    January 9, 2010 at 19:31

    Just watched both ads.

    In the Korean version, imagine if the guy was surrounded by hot Korean women in bikinis who were there to satisfy his every wish. Would that be racist, sexist? Or everything together? I know lots of Asian women who would be very offended by that. And, in many Asian countries, women tend to do most of the shopping.
    Not exactly smart marketing, KFC.

    In the Aussie one, what if it was a black guy? And, all of the people in the stands were white Australians dressed like Paul Hogan and falling down all over each other drunk on Fosters? Would millions of Australians be offended? Or, would they laugh it off and say, good on ya, mate?

  26. 27 T
    January 9, 2010 at 19:50

    This kind of reminds me of an old Python sketch.

    A U.K. professor starts a new university job in Australia. All of the faculty are guys named Bruce (no women). They’re alcoholics dressed like Paul Hogan and drink Fosters 24/7. And, they also tell the new guy “no poofs allowed”.

    Is this offensive to:
    or all of the above?

    If you want to compete in the global economy, you can’t use your nationality as an excuse to do whatever you want.

  27. 28 Ingle
    January 9, 2010 at 20:07

    Why on earth should this advertisement not be used? The complaints about racism are getting out of hand, that means freedom of thought, word and deed are becoming rights which are no longer respected.

  28. 29 John
    January 9, 2010 at 21:51

    Should we really be helping the “race-pimps” with their intolerant agenda? These guys only make their money when they divide and conquer. Most adults have enough sophistication to live in the grown-up world.

  29. 30 Jason Smith
    January 10, 2010 at 00:46

    This whole political correctness has gone mad. Anyone who is offended by this advert simply doesn’t have even the slightest sense of humour.

  30. 31 Vijay Pillai
    January 10, 2010 at 01:54

    while i consider the insensitive and inhuman way in which the australian govt dealt with the tamil refugees from sri kanka escaped by boat and tipped off and stranded in indonesian sea for months, one cannot escape the comparision of similar thinking in advertisement for KFC of racial nature.
    As someone tasted some what sugar spiced and not chilli hot KFC in 1977 in singapore, however one view from political correctness , one cannot help admire the colorful advert so much so only criketet playing nations and admirers of cricket can appreciate the lighthearted advert.These days health and safety prevent teachers to allow their students taking risky adventures,if one were to highlight numerous gods of hindus abused by non-hindu commercial advertisements,there is no life without a lighthearted advert or remarks.I used to feel sorry for Prince Philips since his lighthearted wits are taken too serious by those who cant have a laugh. I rememeber some one asked me why on earh hindus worship an elephant headed god famed in 1995 for drinkng in a milk drinkng worldwide sensation. i was laughing with him as well since you cannot find fault with since i used to wonder myself even though my late father used to say i was born after him praying lord ganesh,the elebhant headed god.

  31. 32 James Ian
    January 10, 2010 at 03:16

    Apparently the dark skinned people in the commercial didn’t have a problem with it, why should anyone else.

  32. 33 M
    January 10, 2010 at 04:33

    Do you not think the people in this world are way out of control. I cannot believe the things that people whinge about. And how dare another country tell us not to use an advertisement. All I can see is that Australians are weak. Just try telling other countries what to do and see how far you get. What a joke.

  33. 34 Dennis Junior
    January 10, 2010 at 06:22

    Yes, this advert should be taken down and, it should be destroyed—so, no one else will be able to view again!

    ~Dennis Junior~

  34. 35 scmehta
    January 10, 2010 at 07:22

    “Stop undressing before you lose your shirt”; And, also, stop undressing before you offend some or some molestation offends you.

  35. 36 piscator
    January 10, 2010 at 12:52

    If we take the PC world in which we live, and we are all aware of it, I thought the advert was ‘iffy’, just as soon as you see one white man and everyone else is black. But not for the reasons you all give.

    The point, however, is not to complain that it may, or may not be racist, but that big companies deliberately play the race card to get internet sites and news channels to publicise the name of their company – conned again you dupes. Shame on the BBC for picking up on this obviously planted advert, when are you going to get hip to modern viral placement techniques.

  36. 37 KevinPE
    January 10, 2010 at 13:14

    Continuing from my earlier post, I should expand on my comments. Being a South African and living through what was probably the most potentially explosive racial period and the relative tolerant situation today, I am left with the firm belief that the continued references and agitation on the part of some with regard to racial matters, is nothing but political nuisance; deliberately designed, not to improve or promote racial tolerance and equality, but to subvert and maintain a climate of mutual distrust and hostility. These groups have a vested interest in potential instability and will disguise themselves as
    “Watchmen” but in truth their very existence depends on disharmony. Peoples will always have a degree of difference whether lingual, cultural, economic or racial, but without the interference of agitators, will in most part co-exist peacefully. In my country it is hard to believe that there was ever a system called apartheid – it is always in the background, but so far has never been used to inflame of incite. People have for the most part moved on and I would suggest the rest of the world does likewise.

  37. 38 Halima
    January 10, 2010 at 13:32

    I had to have the reason explained. I saw the advert and tried to guess what could possibly have been offensive. Couldn’t find it. One white guy looking grim amids a crowd looking happy. Because of the “should have this ad been pulled” I checked out the crowd and THEN noticed that most of them were darker skinned. – Must be that, I thought, but what is wrong? White people are grim looking? – The association with fried chicken having an a priori association with black people had not occured to me. I thought it was just trying to associate KFC with fun. I did not see a racial comment at all. none.
    people will get offended at anything. being overly PC can be counter productive, because you start looking for associations that aren’t there.
    uh oh! Watching out for POSSIBLE racial or other ethnic associations that MIGHT offend actually associates race (or religion or other differences) with offense. It MAKES differences a possible minefield, rather than something that might be fun to explore or ignore.

  38. 39 Tanu Tiwanthu
    January 10, 2010 at 13:49


    January 10, 2010 at 15:03

    No this fab ad should not have been stopped we had here in the UK funny KFC adverts about a bald head man and another with women talking with their mouths full these were also banned whats the point of banning them when we can all watch them again & again on the internet like I just did!

  40. January 10, 2010 at 15:31

    All advertising panders to the lowest common denominator of intellect. When you scrape the bottom of every barrel you end up with the unpalatable. Should all advertising be pulled is the implicit question. What is needed is intellectually acceptable advertising.

  41. January 11, 2010 at 00:54

    ..what’s all the fuss, am black but not giving a crap but now i guess i will. i will write and make a parody of all this non-issue er..not that i don’t see it as a discussion point on WHYS blog but i believe we should all be laughing and having a light moment 😉

  42. 43 TomK in Mpls
    January 11, 2010 at 20:29

    If a product offends you, don’t buy it. Don’t blab unsupportable mantra. Simply put you money where your mouth is. If they are wrong, they will suffer. If they change or fail, you will be vindicated. This will not work to stop physical suppression, But in the economic arena, this is effective. You have choices. Also why should any business be denied the chance to fail or succeed based on their own choices.

    More directly about this ad, I find it a weak humor play on people feeling insecure for several reasons. Including racism. In that way it opposes racism. What is wrong with that?

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