Mary J. Blige, your fans want to know: What the heck were you thinking?
Burger King has yanked an ad featuring the R&B superstar singing the praises of the fast-food chain's new chicken snack wraps after critics in the African-American community complained it was playing off racist stereotypes.
Talk about an embarrassing spot!
As of press time, the commercial has been wiped from Burger King's YouTube channel, but of course the Internet has preserved it for posterity—or in Blige's case, notoriety.
It shows the nine-time Grammy winner crooning the recipe for BK's new tasty snack as part of its new branding push—"Crispy chicken, fresh lettuce, three cheeses, ranch dressing wrapped up in a tasty flour tortilla"—and drew bewildered reactions from a number of African-American media personalities.
In particular, Black Enterprise columnist Janell Hazelwood wrote that the endorsement did "damage" to Mary J.'s brand and "reminded many of us that stereotypes of dancing, singing, and chicken-loving black people still remain prevalent in the hearts and minds of advertisers."
Jayson Rodriguez, executive editor of hip-hop magazine XXL, also wondered what the point was if not to mock her own image.
"Just saw the Mary J. Blige/Burger King commercial for the first time. Confused. Where's the Funny or Die! bumper at the end of the clip?" he tweeted.
In the wake of the online backlash, Burger King issued a statement to E! News claiming it pulled the 30-second spot on technical grounds.
"BURGER KING® is very proud to have Mary J. Blige, Jay Leno, Steven Tyler, David Beckham, Salma Hayek and Sofia Vergara as part of its A-list celebrity line-up promoting the launch of the new BK® menu items," the company told us. "Unfortunately, the Mary J. Blige commercial was released prematurely before all of the licensing and final approvals were obtained. We would like to apologize to Mary J. and all of her fans for airing an ad that was not final. We know how important Mary J. is to her fans, and we are currently in the process of finalizing the commercial. We hope to have the final ad on the air soon."
Blige also released a statement, telling E! News, "I agreed to be a part of a fun and creative campaign that was supposed to feature a dream sequence. Unfortunately, that's not what was happening in that clip, so I understand my fans being upset by what they saw. But, if you're a Mary fan, you have to know I would never allow an unfinished spot like the one you saw go out."
The diva was rumored to have netted a cool $2 million for the endorsement.