Home Around the Web Mary J. Blige Sings About Burger King’s Crispy Chicken

Mary J. Blige Sings About Burger King’s Crispy Chicken


Let me start by saying: I love Mary J. In my mind, Mary J. is like my favorite Aunty who I only see a couple times a year. It is that familial relationship I have (in my mind) with Mary that has me so dismayed at her recently released Burger King commercial. The Aunty Mary J I know would never do something like this. I’m trying to figure out who pitched this to her and why they weren’t slapped in the face for being disrespectful to the Queen of Hip-Hop Soul.

Let’s review what happens in the commercial.


00:01 — We’re told that “exciting things are happening at Burger King.” I guess, considering the rest of the short film, one might call this a bit of foreshadowing. I suppose our anticipation should be building at this point.

00:04 — White dude who has that “I look like every other white dude on Earth” sorta look asks “What’s in the new Chicken Wraps?” He’s flanked one each side by black women, on the left, an older natural haired woman. On the right, a younger straight haired woman who appears to be rocking out on big Beats-By-Dre-esqe headphones. The white dude’s question is then repeated by another average looking white man – who appears to be in charge as he interrupts the service of the racially ambiguous cashier.

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00:06-00:10 — Things get weird. Out of no-where, Mary J. Blige interrupts the conversation, standing on a table, with a microphone, clad in all black leather, sunglasses and blonde hair. She again repeats the question “What’s in the new Chicken wraps.” This is the third time we’ve heard this question asked. Clearly, it’s an important question. But Mary asks it with a different tone, it’s as if there’s some sort of understanding amongst her, the white man in charge and every other employee of this particular Burger King, that whenever someone asks “What’s in the new Chicken Wraps” she gets the floor. White Man In Charge then passes the floor to Mary, the lights dim and coonery ensues.

00:17-00:22 — We reach minstrel show status as down near the front of Mary’s table-stage 3 patrons can be seen “raising the roof,” White Man in Charge sings and dances along to Mary in a very stereo-typically white-man-with-no-rhythm sorta of way. After this we get a couple more shots of French Dressing being drizzled over crispy chicken strips and a slow motion shot of a strip being snapped open to reveal all the steaming hot white meat goodness beneath the crisp. Sexy. (II)

00:24-00:30 — At the denouement of this masterpiece we’re treated to two perfectly laid, fully prepared crispy chicken wraps as Mary J. takes us to the bridge and our narrator implores us to “Coooome annnnd Get It.”

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Ok, so I know I’m being a tad bit nitpicky considering this is a 30 second spot for Burger King. But here’s why. When it comes to advertising, particularly national advertising for a major brand like Burger King – everything matters. The pasty blue, short-sleeved button up the white dude who asked the initial question wore, Mary J’s all black leather, the natural hair of the black woman on the left, the straight hair and headphones of the black girl on his right, all were chosen to make a specific statement, or create a specific scene, all geared to appealing to the perceived sensibilities of the specifically targeted audience. Even the dancing–of three individuals right below Mary and the White Man In Charge–seemed clearly contrived, particularly when layered against Mary J’s rhythmic vocals. I guess my point in saying all this is … don’t take this commercial at face value. It wasn’t freestyled. It was scripted and story-boarded out by people who make tons of money. They paid Mary J tons of money for her appearance and she’ll continue to get paid as long as the commercial runs. At some point, you have to ask yourself: why are they spending all of this money, and what are they trying to tell us … besides chicken?

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And then what about Mary? At this point in her career it’s a little disappointing that she thought it o.k. to stand up on a table a sing about chicken. It’s 2012, I know. Regardless of race, everybody loves chicken, I know. Still, for me, it’s never going to be o.k. for our artists to hop on tables and sing songs about the goodness that is crispy chicken. I just don’t think that’s cool or funny, not even in an ironically provocative kind of way. I hate having expectations of our artists, but I gotta say – I expect better.

Anyways, that’s my rant for the day. Have you seen the commercial? What are your thoughts. Do you believe it to be as specifically tailored and contrived as I believe it is, or is it all in good humor?

Oh, and in case you’re interested, here are the lyrics to Mary’s Chicken Song:

Crispy Chicken, Fresh Lettuce, Three Cheeses

Wrapped up in a, tasty, flour, tortilla


Crispy Chicken … Wrapped Up In A … Flour Tortilla … Flour Tortilla

[email protected] | Twitter: @MrSpradley


  1. I'm sorry, I wish I could stop laughing at this commercial long enough to consider the social ramifications, but then I hear "Crispy CHIKNNNNN…in a TORTILLAAAAAAA!!" & I lose it. I'll get back to you when I can breathe.

      1. She goes all HARD on that tortillaaaaaaaa part at the end, by then I was hyperventilating. I'm certain that a week from now I will give it the anger it deserves.

        BTW- If you pay attention to #BlackTwitter, most of the comments were along the lines of:
        "Yo Mary Foul. Imma still try out those chix strips doe."

        Game. Set. Match.

  2. I haven’t seen the commercial.. But I am not surprised nor am I shocked by it.

    As a public health advocate, one of the struggles that I personally and professionally have to contend with is the marketing and advertising of unhealthy foods.

    I have written about it previously on a blog post last year (“I have a problem with being misled”) with regards to sodas and other sugary sweetened beverages.

    African American’s are suffering the most from chronic diseases (like diabetes) that are preventable..which is costing us years of life and money!

    Yet these ads are targeting us and our children specifically and we are buying into it..

    I’m saddened that Mary J. Bilge had taken this route..( especially since she doesn’t need the money or the help to sell albums!)

    Yet I am encouraged that others like Michelle Obama and Beyonce are working to try to make our communities healthier.

    1. For the record, Mary's commercial is one of many in a new advertising push from BK since being knocked out of the #2 spot by Wendy's. The other spots feature Jay Leno, David Beckham, Salma Hayek and Sofia Vergara. The push is not isolated to one demographic. Also with this new push is the addition of "healthier" menu alternatives.

      Just FYI…

    2. "I'm saddened that Mary J. Bilge had taken this route..( especially since she doesn't need the money or the help to sell albums!) "

      I think we give too much credit to some of our favorite artists we associated with growing up. Who knows if she needs the money. I'm sure she doesn't mind the new revenue and when was the last time she even had a multi-platinum selling album?

      I don't believe this should be treated as an overly sensitive issue. Who cares that she is standing on a table (I know ppl care, but I don't understand why it's a problem)…what it have been better if she was standing on a chair or on the ground? I don't think we should look too deep into this. Bottomline it was a poorly constructed commercial in my opinion first and foremost. The fact she is singing about chicken or what she's wearing or what the lyrics are or whatever are indifferent to me.

  3. You're right.. I shouldn't have said, specifically, but it is affecting us disproportionately. Mary J isn't the first and probably won't be the last in our community that takes part in these campaigns.

    However, I wish it would stop.

  4. I understand that there are variety of similar commercials being pushed by Burger King however (without seeing the Sofia one) I can't really pick out stereotypes in those compared to the Mary J Blige one. The head role and the ghetto way she asked "what's in the chicken wrap", the kids raising the roof, or the white dude dancing in his I can't really dance to hip hop way. And what kills me (the icing on the cake) is Mary's hair style resembling Foghorn Leghorn ( a rooster).

    In Selma's video I don't see people coming out with little sombreros, or salsaing. I don't see David with a tea set (british people supposedly love tea).

    Coonery aside what I find wrong with this commercial is that I grew up listening to Mary (not the current marry) I mean the 411 Real Love Mary J Blige. I just feel she's too big to be singing about chicken.

    1. My general sentiments exactly. In advertising, nothing is coincidental. If you notice something in an advertisement, you were supposed to notice it. That's how that whole game works.

  5. lmaoo "the lights dim and coonery ensues!" this commercial is so ridiculous Mary J really did out do herself in this one! and I have to agree with you although we have to watch out not to be over sensitive you have to wonder what the heck they are trying to say with these over the top commercials. The people making these commercials aren't just throwing together a bunch of stereotypes and hoping someone might like it, there's a ton of market research going on to figure out what different populations respond to. My question is WHO is watching this commercial, and sayin "ooo that was tight! I'm bout to go get me some chicken for breakfast! Mary J killed it!" If you are one of those n…n……..Neanderthals do us all a favor and smack yourself!

  6. I don't know what's worse … THIS or that got-damn Popeye's commercial where the modern day "Aunt Jemima" is so elated in telling the audience how great their chicken is. *rolls eyes*

    We get it, Black folks (generally speaking) LOOOOVVVVEE chicken … but still in 2012, there can't be a better representation? It's just all very annoying.


  7. "Have you seen the commercial? What are your thoughts?"

    I just watched the commerical….
    *blank stare* (-_-)

    That is all.

  8. Everytime I think of this commerical, I think of Paul Mooney talking about Hammer dancing for a piece of popcorn chicken (from his Race album). It is not that black people are the only ones who like and eat chicken BUT we are the only group who is stereotyped and mocked for liking chicken and these advertisers know this. I call commericals (among many other things) like this a "stick" or micro aggressions if you're fancy. It's not agressively blatant, but it is subtle and can be explained away with flimsy excuses but you still feel the effects of the stick.

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