Brands pay big money to advertise their wares during NFL games, and a recent KFC ad (as featured on YouTube) has seemingly backfired on the fast-food chain. The ad features Kirk Cousins, quarterback for the Minnesota Vikings, explaining to a reporter that NFL quarterbacks are prone to licking their fingers because of the "little extra flavor" that "makes the wide receivers work harder for the ball." As Cousins makes this statement, he's seen snacking on a bucket of KFC chicken, which the viewer is led to believe is presumably the source of said "flavor."
Barring the fact that Cousins seems to be implying that his recycled KFC spittle is somehow enticing to others, there's also an uncomfortable racial connotation associated with the commercial. Consider that fried chicken is involved in a well-known racist trope made popular in the early 1900s when it was featured in "Birth of a Nation", a film that's widely derided due to its racist content. Also consider that the racial makeup of the NFL is now "predominantly Black," according to The Football Players Health Study at Harvard University, and that the role of wide receiver is most often filled by Black athletes. The commercial then seems to be implying that wide receivers work harder for a taste of fried chicken. As stated by a commenter on YouTube, "What were they thinking?"
A Truly Puzzling Commercial Concept
These days, major companies develop commercials that not only increase interest in their products but also serve as conversation starters among viewers. This quest for virality can often result in questionable decisions, which is definitely the case with KFC's Kirk Cousins commercial. Even without the racial element that has many people raising concerns, the concept itself is downright unpalatable, as the commercial seems to be saying that KFC is so delicious that people don't mind enjoying it secondhand.
Of course, the alleged racist connotations are most prevalent, so much so that one YouTube commenter claimed that the commercial had been altered on subsequent airings. According to the commenter, "They literally just showed an edited version of this without the clearly racist part during the cowboys Seahawks game [sic]." It's hard to imagine that the marketing team behind KFC failed to notice the many problematic elements of the Kirk Cousins commercial before it aired. This is especially true when you consider that the fast-food chain has found itself facing uncomfortable accusations before.
This Isn't The First Time KFC Has Experienced Allegations Of Racism
In 2021, a KFC ad in the UK caused consternation among viewers, who claimed that it featured racist stereotypes. In the commercial, two Black men suddenly transform into dancing chickens, seemingly in response to the food being served at the fast-food chain. Despite complaints about the televised ad, the Advertising Standards Authority (a regulatory agency in the UK) deemed that the commercial was not offensive.
Further back in 2010, an Australian KFC commercial that featured a cricket match was subject to similar accusations. American viewers took offense to the fact that the ad showed Black cricket fans from the West Indies being offered KFC in an attempt to quell their raucous celebration over the match. As a result, KFC chose to cease airing the commercial, even though the fast-food chain claimed that Australian viewers didn't find fault with it. In light of these occurrences, it's a bit strange that KFC isn't more sensitive to potentially offensive messaging.
Read the original article on Daily Meal.