Link to Commercial: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FftZt...layer_embedded
By all accounts - the Australians understood the commercial and no one was offended. After it made its way to Youtube and BET got a hold of it, KFC cracked under the pressure.
KFC has been forced to yank one of its commercials from Australian television after it sparked cries of racism for showing a lone white man handing out fried chicken to dancing black people.
The sketch is about cricket, a sport popular in both Australia and the West Indies, where the characters in the ad are meant to be from. It depicts a white Australian cricket fan in the opposing team's stands, surrounded by excited dark-skinned West Indies supporters.
"Need a tip when you're stuck in an awkward situation?" he says. Then it shows the man sharing a bucket of fried chicken with the crowd.
It was designed for the Australian market but got attention in America after someone posted it on YouTube.
BET, the African-American TV network, gave its take on the ad and asked readers to comment on its Web site:
"Are you a lone white man, who's sweating bullets because you're surrounded by a horde of black folks who are dancing and playing jungle rhythms? Worry not ... Kentucky Fried Chicken has the solution: Pass around a bucket of chicken.
"Does the content of this KFC ad, which is now playing on Australian TV, sound racist?"
It did to enough people that KFC was forced to discontinue the commercial Thursday.
"We have been made aware that a KFC commercial being shown on Australian television has apparently caused offense, particularly in the United States," the company said in a statement on its Australian division's Web site. "KFC will cease running the commercial immediately.
"KFC Australia apologizes unreservedly for any offense caused," it said.
The commercial was one in a series of KFC ads where a cricket lover quiets rowdy fans around him by offering them fried chicken, so he can enjoy the game. The company called its tone "tongue-in-cheek."
But the skin color of the actors, with a quiet white man in a crowd of rowdy blacks -- plus the suggestion that blacks eat a lot of fried chicken -- smacked of racism to many American viewers.
People offended by the ad have inundated U.S. media Web sites with emotional posts.
"To insinuate you can calm down rowdy black people with chicken is disrespectful and idiotic," one BET reader wrote. "This was blatantly racist," another wrote on the New York Daily News Web site.
That newspaper ran a poll on its Web site asking whether readers found the ad offensive. As of Friday morning, 68 percent of readers chose "No, it's just lighthearted and fun," while 28 percent selected "Yes, it plays on stereotypes." Four percent voted "I'm not sure,"
KFC said it believes "this light-hearted commercial has been well understood by Australian cricket fans" but would nevertheless pull it from broadcast "to avoid the possibility of any further offense being caused."
The company also said the ad was reproduced in the U.S. "without KFC's permission" and was "intended for Australian audiences only."
Australians upset at the American response also voiced their views on media Web sites and blogs.
"Oh dear," an Australian wrote on the Baltimore Sun site. "Another shining example of how some Americans can be absolutely clueless about anything further away than the tip of their own nose."