Failed rapper Kevin Federline can't even flip burgers. At least not without drawing fire.
A restaurant trade organization has expressed "serious concerns" about an upcoming Super Bowl ad featuring Britney Spears' estranged spouse going from the recording booth to the fast-food counter.
The 30-second ad for Nationwide Mutual Insurance is scheduled to air during the third quarter of Super Bowl XLI on Feb. 4.
In a letter to Nationwide, Steven C. Anderson, president and chief executive officer of the Washington, D.C.-based National Restaurant Association, charged that the ad "give[s] the impression that working in a restaurant is a demeaning and unpleasant," and stands as a "direct insult to the 12.8 million Americans who work in the restaurant industry."
Nothing personal against Mr. "PopoZão," mind you.
"It's not about Kevin Federline," Chrissy Shott, spokeswoman for the National Restaurant Association, said Wednesday. "It's about the ad."
Though the association hasn't seen the as-yet unaired ad, it believes, based on reports, that its depiction of Federline joining the fast-food employment ranks is something less than inspirational.
"It gives the impression that it's demeaning," Shott said.
The Anderson letter, dated Monday, expresses the hope that Nationwide won't air the ad, and warns if the company does it'll alert its members—"many of whom are customers of Nationwide."
According to Nationwide, the restaurant group can't see the Happy Meal for the fries.
"The intent of the ad isn't to offend or insult the many fine individuals who work in the restaurant industry," Nationwide spokesman Eric Hardgrove said in a statement to Reuters. "The focus of the ad is the element of surprise, not the setting of a fast-food restaurant."
The ad is part of Nationwide's "Life Comes at You Fast" campaign. Previous Super Bowl spots have starred Fabio going from buff model to wrinkled old man, and M.C. Hammer going from mansion-dwelling rap star to mansion-selling trivia answer. The point: Life changes, and not always for the best.
"No one has personified 'Life Comes at You Fast' in the media better than Kevin Federline," Nationwide advertising exec Steven Schreibman said last week in announcing the spot, and paying backhanded compliment to its star.
Federline's life came at him fast, so to speak, last November when the 28-year-old former backup dancer was booted from Spears' entourage via a divorce filing. At the time, Federline was embarking on a club tour to promote his poor-selling rap debut, Playing with Fire. The tour was quickly aborted—not even tabloid headlines about the divorce helped sell tickets.
Though Federline doesn't have much of a rap career, at least not now, Nationwide insists the late-night talk-show punchline does have a "great sense of humor."
"He's poking fun at himself," Schreibman said in last week's statement, "and in the process, gets to have the last word."
Meanwhile, in another real-life case of life—or tragedy—happening fast, Dave Shayman, the producer of Federline's infamous "PopoZão," and other, more popular tracks, such as "Ski Mask Way" from 50 Cent's The Massacre, was found dead Tuesday of an apparent suicide, reports said. Shayman, known as Disco D, was 26.
"I am deeply saddened by the loss of my friend Disco D," Federline said in a statement Wednesday. "He was not only an amazing producer but a great friend who I will truly miss."