KFC Australia pulls "cricket survival guide" ad after US viewers finds it racist.

Once again, the world wide web causes a local ad to be misinterpreted abroad. Americans who saw the KFC Cricket Survival guide ad found it racist, as it depicts "African Americans liking fried chicken" Come again? The ad, which in Australia was titled "How to Silence a Noisy Crowd", depicts an Australia fan who has ended up in the seating area of the West Indies fans. "Need a tip when you're stuck in an awkward situation?" he asks the camera. He then serves a bucket of chicken to everyone around him and any opposing team friction is defused as all cricket fans like food. It is but one handy tip in the KFC Cricket Survival guide campaign.

KFC - West Indies vs Australia / Awkward / How to Silence a Noisy Crowd - (2010) :30 (Australia)

Over in the states, both Videogum, and the Huffington post think the ad is racist, News.com.au reports on the accusations of racism abroad. KFC has responded by discontinuing the ad.

KFC Australia has acknowledged that the ad could be perceived as racist. It said the ad had been "misinterpreted by a segment of people in the US" in a statement released this morning. "It is a light-hearted reference to the West Indian cricket team," KFC 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. "We unequivocally condemn discrimination of any type and have a proud history as one of the world's leading employers for diversity."

For all you Aussies, Brits, Dutch, French, Japanese, Swedes, Germans and so on that read Adland - what you might not know is that there is a US stereotype that says African Americans like fried chicken. And watermelon. (Because who doesn't like fried chicken and watermelon?) Thus, serving fried chicken to black people wasn't interpreted as someone befriending the opposite team, instead as someone who played up on a stereotype. This stereotype is all the way from the civil war as fried chicken, watermelon and chitterlings was slave food and has since suffered strong association to African American stereotypes and blackface minstrelsy. The chicken insult runs deep in US history. So, did the Australian KFC intend to be racist? Probably not, I see opposing teams in the ad, and I don't think they intended it to be read the way it was. However, Australia may need to get out more, they thought the blackface Jackson 5 skit which offended Harry Connick Jr to the core was all harmless fun too. This, the Absolute Mexico ad, the UK Snickers Mr T and Heinz kiss ads, the WWF 911 ad and countless other examples teach us that if your ad ever reaches the web, it better not offend the Americans.

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Neo's picture

I have an idea, send Colonel Sanders back to the UN to straighten this out.

Dabitch's picture

HARDY HAR HAR! That was funny.

Neo's picture

Thanks m'dear. The problem with this ad isn't that it's racist. The problem here is that Americans viewing the ad projected their own cultural heritage onto it, then told the Aussies that the ad was racist, and failed to see the irony of this.

Robbotman's picture

I don't think it's too much to ask of a global brand to think of the global reaction to any ad that they put out. This is 2010, the internet is wordwide and adverts intended for a national audience is seen by a word wide audience these days. KFC are right to pull this ad no matter how it was intended.

fairuse's picture

May I make a couple of additional points? [edit as needed Op - I try not ranting.]
A. The history part included for folks not familiar with how the chicken slur was formed is ok and the facts are correct.
B. i grew up in the south (Virginia & South Carolina). Fried chicken and other so called 'soul-foods' are a staple of the people in the southern USofA and there is seldom a mention that fried chicken is for black or white. When someone does claim the racist card because of the type of food eaten it is usually a wrapped too tight intellectual ( they think of themselves as such ) who think they are above the rest of us.
When a big mob arrives at my mom's house and is hungry - fried chicken is fast and easy on the cook or a KFC/Popeyes run is made. So from my experience there is a regional component to the racist claims and I did not find a newspaper from 'The South' reporting on KFC's ordeal. Only a few AP reprints in Kentucky - the web of course has hundreds of sites with the same AP report.
The point: American political correctness is just a nuisance to the rest of the planet. It was a cricket match for crying out loud. American's equate that to messed up baseball, so why believe the same people are fit to judge a food ad directed to cricket fans/players. Better luck next time KFC.

Dabitch's picture

The more trivia, the better I say! Having learned how to walk&talk in North Carolina, I'll vouch for an abundance of fried chicken and watermelon at my house too. (Not to forget a full BBQ pig which took a whole day to do, so ossom).

Adding more background to that, there's a book called Building Houses out of Chicken Legs: Black Women, Food, and Power

When Bella Winston uttered the simple but profound statement that her mother purchased their home "with chicken legs," she was describing the tenacious spirit of the women who served as "waiter carriers" for many years in Gordonsville, Virginia. Like her mother before her, Bella Winston learned the trade of selling chicken, hot biscuits, coffee and other foodstuffs to hungry train passengers who were eager to purchase their goods when trains stopped in their rural town.
Tvspel's picture

It's interesting to see that this has spread worldwide - while it's only really a misconception. Does anyone know how it even started to be a racist slur against black people?

Dabitch's picture

Well, Bill over at Make The Logo Bigger posted about it already in December 09. Buzzfeed gave it tremendous boost. Kiran Aditham at Agencyspy headlined it: WHAT THE...?KFC Knows How to Put White Guys at Ease..... Not sure who saw it first, really, but in the adblogger posse it seems to be Bill. I think it was the buzzfeed post that sent it over "the edge" (and into HuffPo).