Mary J. Blige Burger King Commercial Draws Ire

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There's growing controversy over a Burger King ad featuring singer Mary J Blige. Blige apologized for the ad on Thursday, saying she didn't approve the final version.


Burger King tapped some big names to promote the rollout of its new menu: Jay Leno, Salma Hayek, David Beckham and hip-hop diva Mary J. Blige. But a Web preview of an ad featuring Blige has generated a tsunami of outrage from black consumers, as NPR's Karen Grigsby Bates reports.

KAREN GRIGSBY BATES, BYLINE: Mary J. Blige is known for being a regal diva with a powerful voice.


MARY J. BLIGE: (Singing) I was your lover and your secretary.

BATES: She's done commercials before, but this preview of her Burger King ballad for the Crispy Chicken Wrap didn't go down too well with many black fans and consumers.


BLIGE: (Singing) Crispy chicken, fresh lettuce, three cheeses with dressing. That's...

BATES: On the one hand, it's a sandwich for Pete's sake, but fried chicken and black people is a touchy stereotype and comments exploded on social media and the web.

VERONICA WELLS: Black people don't always need a song or a dance to buy a product.

BATES: Veronica Wells is an editor at Madame Noire, an online website devoted to black women's interests. She wrote an open letter to Blige questioning the singer's decision to flack the wrap.

Ken Schwartz is CEO of Target Market News, which tracks black consumer patterns. He says Burger King should have known better. The ad was released prematurely and its mistake could cost both it and Blige.

KEN SCHWARTZ: It's kind of silly for companies at this stage of the game to think that it's OK to simply throw something out there. I mean, we're talking about millions of dollars and, in her case, we're talking about her image, what it is that she makes her livelihood from.

BATES: Burger King has apologized to Blige and pulled the video from YouTube, but the controversy may leave a nasty aftertaste for some before they even try the new menu.

Karen Grigsby Bates, NPR News.

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