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Mary J. Blige: More and More Drama

This year, Burger King dropped to the third largest hamburger chain behind Wendy’s and of course, McDonald’s. This drop has caused BK to break into a new marketing campaign to recover their lagging sales. As part of their new marketing campaign, they have enlisted celebrities including Jay Leno, Salma Hayek and Sofia Vergara to endorse certain menu items in commercials. The most popular commercial starring David Beckham.

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Unfortunately, BK seems to have hit a snag in their rebranding trail. In their most recent commercial, BK received some help from the Queen of Hip-Hop/Soul, Mary J. Blige. Considering Mary J. is one of the biggest singers of this generation, that’s not too bad. What is bad, is that BK can make even Mary J.’s loyalist fans turn their backs on her for her singing!

About a week ago, BK released a small clip of the commercial to local TV stations and then posted it on their YouTube channel. In the clip, Mary J. Blige was shown standing on a table singing about the new crispy chicken wrap. The new fried chicken crispy wrap to be exact. Within a few days, the controversy began. Many called the ad racist and stereotypical of the black community.

Fans were hitting up blogs and their social networking accounts to express their disappointment and anger towards Mary J. and the burger chain.  Mary J.’s career was attacked with comments saying how low she’s sunk to get publicity. Other comments questioned her morals in signing on to do a controversial ad such as this one. While Mary J. was getting backlash from fans, BK was taking a hit from fans, customers, critics, advertising experts and everyone else who had an opinion.

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Last week, the ad was removed from TV and the Internet. While most say the ad was removed because of the backlash, BK citied “music licensing problems” as the reason. After the video was removed, Mary J. finally released a statement to address the controversy. She had a slightly different view on what happened with the ad:

I agreed to be a part of a fun and creative campaign that was supposed to feature a dream sequence. Unfortunately, that’s not what was happening in that clip, so I understand my fans being upset by what they saw. But, if you’re a Mary fan, you have to know I would never allow an unfinished spot like the one you saw to go out.

OK. BK says their having licensing problems and Mary J. says the spot was unfinished and that she would have never approved it…

So clearly there were some communication issues with the releasing of this ad. You would think BK’s marketing team would make sure everything was settled and approved before releasing a video that connects their brand and a big name artist such as Mary J.

Burger King eventually released a statement the same day and go as follows:

We would like to apologize to Mary J. and all of her fans for airing an ad that was not final. We know how important Mary J. is to her fans, and we are currently in the process of finalizing the commercial. We hope to have the final ad on the air soon.

Connecting to the younger generation seems to be the route for a lot of fast-food chains. We have McDonald’s trying to use Twitter to connect and failing completely, not to mention they also have questionable commercials showing African-Americans singing about chicken nuggets.

These brands need to take a step back and educate themselves. With the help of social media, this generation has the power to damage a brand and its reputation, which shouldn’t be taken lightly. You can’t just jump in and hope you float. Learn how our generation communicates so that you can effectively join the conversation at the right time with the right tools.

For more on the story check out this article on Yahoo!News.


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6 thoughts on “Mary J. Blige: More and More Drama

  1. I think that BK needs to revisit there strategy and start over big time. McDonalds can join in that too. I never condone when advertisements revert to stereotypes and especially racism in any manner. Its frustrating that anyone would think it is okay.

    Short comment, great post. Such a disappointment. I really wouldn’t mind to see either of those two go under. Though the thought is a stretch.

  2. I agree with you and emily. I personally don’t prefer fast food and it just makes me look and Mary differently now because shes endorsing a product that i don’t care for. No matter how hard McD’s or BK try, they can’t convince me, through social media or commercials, to change my opinion of their establishment. They should focus on improving their foods.

  3. After watching the video I couldn’t help but think that Burger King was trying way too hard to be “hip”.

    I believe that they missed the punch line. The younger generation doesn’t expect flashing things. The commercial was over thought and poorly researched.

    What team was in charge of putting this together and why didn’t Mary J. Blige’s PR team stop her from making a fool out herself. Although she is secure in her field, it doesn’t make it OK to randomly throw herself into “half-assed” projects. I feel as though it can still tarnish reputations.

  4. I find the new BK commercials silly and they don’t make me want to eat their food at all. I don’t relate to their new ads at all and I really wonder who BK was aiming for with these ads.
    I also agree with what Emily said about how BK is another fast food chain that is missing the mark totally when it comes to Social Media.
    But one good example of a fast food chain that has figured it out is Del Taco, they have a really good idea on what their customers want and need from the company and they are spreading their message across many different forums.

  5. I must admit that I thoroughly enjoyed watching the video. The song is now stuck in my head. I think you’re right though. Education is key. I think that before Mary J. Blige signed on to do the commercial, she and her people should have known how it would turn out. Any PR professional or publicist with a little bit of sense could predict that a black woman singing about “crispy chicken” would at the very least ruffle some feathers.
    In addition to perpetuating stereotypes, the commercial was just poorly made and it looked very cheap. Mary J. claims she didn’t approve the finished product but I believe somebody from her camp did. Or she simply didn’t have to approve the finished product if everything was owned by Burger King. This is all one big mess. This goes back to education. Ignorance can no longer be an excuse.


  6. Pingback: Comment Log – Ashley Hutcherson « ashleyhutcherson

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