Thursday, December 9, 2010

Racist Australian KFC commercial?

KFC Commercial (YouTube, 20 seconds):

This is an Australian Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) cricket commercial that made a lot of noise when it got to on YouTube and American people saw it in January 2010. After receiving lots of complaints, Australian KFC apologized and took it off the air on the 7th of January 2010.It did not make such a scandal in Australia.

I found the commercial quite awkward in many ways. First of all, many African American stereotypes are pictured here: a big noisy crowd, fun music and especially they like fried chicken. Secondly, at the beginning of the video there is written “cricket survival guide” and the Caucasian cricket fan says "Need a tip when you’re stuck in an awkward situation?", which implicates that the Australian man in the middle of the crowd is “attacked” by the people around him. This brings up the stereotype of the black aggressive male. Finally, the fact that he says “it’s too easy” kind of says that he can control the crowd and therefore has a certain amount of power over the black crowd. This situation reminded me strangely of white supremacy…

Although I do not think KFC did this on purpose, I wonder how they did not realize it could offend people and maintain serious stereotypes on black people. I also think that Australia does not have such a heavy history concerning African Americans, so probably did not realize what they were doing and took the commercial more lightly.

On the surface, this commercial does come out as racist. But I also read some article about this debatable commercial. The black people in the crowd are supposed to be West Indian/Sri Lankan cricket fans. They are considered to be one of the biggest enemies in Australian cricket… which could largely explain the commercial and the Australian cricket fan’s fear.

Are Americans really oversensitive over race issues? Or is this commercial really racist in your opinion?

Please post your comments and reactions.


  1. The commercial, in context, makes sense. If those are fans of a rival team, then his comment about the "awkward situation" fits and there's no problem. I can see how Americans would feel uncomfortable, but they also could just be oversensitive toward this particular situation.

  2. In certain cases I would have to say that Americans often overreact to things that might be considered racist. I feel like whoever was accusing KFC of racism without considering the specific Australian context was probably doing so not out of some altruistic obligation to end racism, but because they personally had some political agenda that they could advance by pointing out KFC's "racism." I think this is often the case when we see people called out for racism when, in a certain context, their statements are largely unrelated to questions of race. This is definitely not always the case, but it could certainly be that someone, white or black, advanced a personal agenda by crying racism. Again, this is not always the case, nor would I claim that is even usually the case, but I can see how something like that may have happened here.

  3. I think this is a case of oversensitivity about race in America. As stated, the commercial didn't make nearly the scandal in Australia as it did in America, and it's purely because Australia does not have such a terrible history of race relations. I don't doubt that KFC meant the commercial with good intentions. That being said, however, they should have used some discretion, and realized that this commercial would offend some people.

  4. Considering the overall vague manner of this short commercial and with no knowledge of Australian race relations the first time i watched this commercial I was screaming racist, but when I watched it again and took into consideration the tribal music and dress of those in the crowd it can be seen as a cultural difference rather than a racist statement, basically saying that KFC brings all people from different backgrounds together.

  5. I think if I had seen this advertisement before reading the post, I would have thought it to be outright racism. From an Americans perspective this seems to be outright blatant racism. However when it is explained in context, the Sri Lankan cricket fans, this becomes not so racist, if racist at all. Perhaps before we immediately regard something as racist we should find out the context of it and realize that this ad was made in another country halfway across the world where things are not the same as they are in America. I highly doubt that those who made this commercial were trying to be racist, because they probably knew that the repercussions of something like that would be great.