Andra Jackson and Peter Mitchell (Melbourne), The Age, January 8, 2010
KFC Australia’s head office has apologised for any offence its controversial cricket ad has caused in America, saying it has been misinterpreted as racist.
The commercial, featuring a white Australian cricket fan offering fried chicken to West Indies supporters, was made for the Australian television market but was seen in America after it was posted on YouTube.
In the wake of the debate that raged in American media over whether it was racist, KFC’s Australian head office yesterday said the advertisement has been pulled from the air in Australia.
KFC Australia said in a statement posted on its website that it apologised unreservedly for “any misinterpretation” caused by the cricket ad, saying it was not meant to offend anyone.
“We have been made aware that a KFC commercial being shown on Australian television has apparently caused offence, particularly in the United States, after a copy of the commercial was reproduced online without KFC’s permission,” it said.
“While we believe this light-hearted commercial has been well understood by Australian cricket fans, to avoid the possibility of any further offence being caused by the advertisement either here or online overseas, KFC will cease running the commercial immediately.
“KFC Australia apologises unreservedly for any offence caused, which, of course, was wholly unintended.”
KFC Australia spokesman Zac Rich said last night the company had received only two complaints about the advertisement from people in Australia and they were “along the same lines as in America”.
The Australian TV commercial was picked up by US media, including the New York Daily News and Baltimore Sun, and drew debate, with Americans accusing Australians of being racist because it perpetuates a stereotype that African Americans eat a lot of fried chicken.
The New York Daily News staged a poll on its website asking if the ad was offensive.
The vote was almost split, with 51 per choosing “No, it’s just lighthearted and fun” while 42 per cent selected “Yes, it plays on stereotypes”, and 6 per cent voted “I’m not sure”.
Readers inundated the newspaper websites with emotional posts.
[Editors Note: The ad can be viewed at the original story.]