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Is This KFC Ad Racist?

Submitted by on January 6, 2010 – 5:25 am12 Comments

A mere three months after the Harry Connick Jr/blackface incident, there’s been another accusation of racism in Australia, this time in the form of a television advertisement for KFC. While the blackface incident was racist at best and ignorant at worse, this commercial is in much more of a gray area.

The ad in question is part of a series of commercials called the “KFC Cricket Survival Guide”, which features an Australian character caught in different scenarios with various cricket fans and how he uses KFC to get out of these situations. In one commercial he’s a lone Australian sitting with several fans of the West Indian cricket team and when he produces a bucket of fried chicken, the fans stop cheering and instead focus on the food.

(You can also view the ad here, via the KFC Australia website.)

As an Australian who is immersed in American culture, I can see both sides of the argument in this case. The ad is not simply saying that Black people will always be distracted by fried chicken, but I can see how that could be inferred – the focus of the ad is saying that KFC will distract any cricket fan, but in this case they’re using West Indian fans instead of English, Indian or New Zealand fans. In Australia we also get to see the context of the ad as it is run with many different KFC/cricket themed commercials, where the whole point is how KFC is popular with fans of cricket, not just Black fans of cricket, something that is also lost when viewing the West Indian ad by itself.

To read some different points of view on the commercial, check out “Here We Go Again: Australian KFC Ad Deemed Racist By Ignorant Americans” (inquisitr.com) and “KFC Knows How to Put White Guys at Ease” (mediabistro.com).

What do you think – is the commercial racist? Ignorant? Harmless? All of the above, or none of the above?

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