Is international KFC commercial racist?

This commercial for KFC was recently shown in Australia during a cricket match. Many in the U.S. are outraged, calling the piece racist. However, KFC reps abroad say that there would be no negative connotation in Australian culture.

What do you think?


9 comments:

  1. Interesting commercial. Having never been to Australia, I can't comment on the statement made by the KFC reps and I certainly can't comment on the Australian social aspects either. It's a tough call because I can see both sides of the argument - but that's according to OUR (U.S.) social standards.

    Let's be 100% real here - different cultures see things in ways we do not. I certainly don't think their intent was racist, but I can see how some people will find it to be racist. People always seem to see what they want to see.
    I will say that the commercial could have certainly been done with a clearer message.

    Good post! Racism has been such a difficult subject. People are so easily misunderstood that you might not get many replies.

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  2. I think it's kind of arrogant of the US (or rather those US citizens that oppose this commercial) to assume that our stereotypes are the same globally.

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  3. Tom and Marianne,

    Thank you so much for commenting on this. Interestingly enough, TMZ ran a poll on their site today asking whether or not the commercial was racist. Nearly 70,000 people have responded so far; 56% saying it was not racist and 44% saying it is.

    More information (and context) has since come out that the "crowd" was meant to represent fans of the West Indies cricket team and the Caucasian was meant to represent the one fan supporting Australia.

    It's certainly a good example of how not all messages resonate with all audiences. And since this was specifically geared toward an Australian audience, it's no surprise that it may conjure up different feelings with an American demographic (who bring their own stereotypes to the equation).

    I do find it interesting that I have not read any articles from Australia condemning the commercial. Probably a good case study for advertisers, huh? Especially now if a world where everything seems to go viral.

    Thank you so much for providing your perspectives on the subject. It's always great to see how others perceive things.

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  4. And of course, Americans know nothing about cricket, international or otherwise, or who is competing, where. Viewers' assumptions and judgments are informed by knowledge *and* by ignorance. In this country, you could make the same commercial and run it during the Superbowl playoffs (like this coming weekend), showing one person in a green jersey surrounded by people in blue and silver jerseys, even with the same sort of racial differences, and nobody would miss the point of what the guy with the bucket of chicken meant when he said it was an awkward situation.

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  5. I personally can't see how this is racist, but can see how some in the US can - the idea of a white man feeding blacks fried chicken can be seen as echoing the idea that blacks ate fried chicken during slavery. And so it goes. I am a marketer living living in Australia and agree that this would make a good case study for marketers. Thanks for this.

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  6. Bill7tx: Excellent point! I think your analogy definitely rings true! You get an "A" for the day ;->

    Likeshunmewah: You're a marketer in Australia? Perfect! You are exactly who we needed for this discussion. Thanks so much for weighing in!

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  7. Motivated ProcrastinatorJanuary 13, 2010 at 1:34 PM

    I ventured over here from twitter. Great topic! Here's my take:

    I think it's important to denote the LANGUAGE being used. Words are often misused, misinterpreted and chosen for the emotions they invoke. Often times misuse of a word gains mainstream acceptance. The word 'racist' suffers from a similar oversight and is most likely the INCORRECT language for describing what this video MAY or MAY NOT convey. Other useful less inflammatory words might include: insensitive and stereotypical association. Perpetuating both should be avoided.

    Question: If we switched out the Darker Skinned individuals and replaced theme with all white females or maybe male individuals in drag. Would the same response or message be invoked?

    We can't answer that question. However, I believe the answer lies in what that community/culture stands to lose and can only be defined by that culture.

    Secondly, it is also probably true that today's commercials (media in general for that matter) should be thought of in GLOBAL terms by any saavy marketing team. Rarely does a commercial only have viewers on one continent anymore.

    In that respect, I would say that the marketing team's forward insight - FAILED!

    Lastly, I would contend that those persons feeling a sense of being 'wronged' may very well be entitled to their feelings.

    MP

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  8. Motivated Procrastinator: Thank you for your thoughtful and detailed comment. You make some excellent points. I appreciate you sharing your perspective with us. And, indeed, everything goes viral in this day and age, doesn't it?

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