Mary J. Blige and the Crispy Chicken Snack Wrap: The Birth and Death of a Burger King Ad
An Internet love story
There are approximately two ways Mary J. Blige can be feeling right now about the Burger King commercial she starred in that hit the web and TV on Monday, was immediately mocked by the masses, and then promptly yanked from the airwaves. Either she’s a little embarrassed after being ridiculed non-stop for 48 hours, or, if her nine Grammys have anything to say about it, she might be sitting back and laughing to herself, because maybe she’s an Internet genius. Here’s a helpful timeline of how the (no! more!) drama unfolded:
Monday Morning-ish: A 30-second spot for Burger King hits the Internet, on the chain’s YouTube page and presumably on television — along with a handful of other ads starring David Beckham, Salma Hayek, and Jay Leno — in which Mary J. Blige stands on a BK tabletop, seriously singing about the contents of a crispy chicken snack wrap.
Monday Afternoon: Insane backlash erupts online as people begin discovering the ad, their jaws dropping at seeing as many pointed out, a ludicrously Grammy-honored artist dancing on a table at a fast food joint, shilling for a crispy chicken wrap (we’ll just leave this here for your perusal). This clearly wasn’t the first time a legendary singer has appeared in a fast food commercial, but there’s something about Mary that triggers a national sigh. Rap Radar’s home page starts sporting a new slogan: “Crispy chicken, fresh lettuce.”
Tuesday Afternoon: Barely a day later, Burger King recalls the ads, shutting down most pirated versions on YouTube, denying the world the wonderful tune about the deliciousness of crispy chicken and lettuce. Grantland writers are left to struggle with their crispy existential crises.
Tuesday Evening: The King speaks! The company explains they had to pull the ad, citing, as the Huffington Post reports, a “licensing concern.” They promise that the MJB ad will be “back on the air soon,” but refuse to say whether the spots will be the same. The world waits.
So, embarrassing faux-pas for one of our generation’s great soul singers, brilliant PR move for BK, who’re engaged in a greasy battle royale with Wendy’s for the No. 2 spot in the fast-food rankings — or both? The company has recently announced it’ll go public, and congrats if you can get that image of Mary out of your head.