Thursday, January 7, 2010

Will Mayor McCheese Demand KFC Pull Racist Ads?

As most people know, our Mayor has accepted $5,000 worth of fire extinguishers and smoke detectors from Kentucky Fried Chicken in exchange for appearing in some press photos and letting KFC put its logo on the extinguishers and some Indy fire hydrants.

As the Indianapolis Business Journal story notes, this money comes as a promotion for KFC's new "fiery" chicken wings.

I'm sorry, but when did $5,000 become the sales price for our city's dignity, Mr. Mayor? Even if we are hard up for cash, why would you negotiate such a crappy deal? Don't you see how much free press KFC gets just from the story about the deal? They probably saved $20,000 in regional advertising costs, and since this story is being churned by KFC nationally, well, who knows how much else they saved on marketing by getting two tool-for-mayors (the other city is Brazil, Indiana) to sign off on this reputation-crushing venture.

And if we're going to rent space on our hydrants, why give it to a company that authorized one of the most racist television ads I've ever seen.

Yes, the ad, which tells white people to offer a bucket of chicken as the cure for black loudness, only runs in Australia. But we're suppose to accept they've never heard of the stereotype? They know. And so does the Mayor.
So will he step up and demand a change in KFC policy, or will he take the hush money (and bisquits) and, once again, disappear.



M Theory said...

What I don't understand is how this could happen with a sharp cookie like Robert Vane on board.

I know he knows better.

Anonymous said...

Jen Pittman, spokeswoman for Mayor Greg Ballard, is quoted on as explaining that the $5,000 is necessary to the city: "It's offsetting a need, it's offsetting some of our budget costs."


Sigh! Once again we're the laughingstock of the nation!

Anonymous said...


What is the law on whether the City has opened itself up to being required to accept sponsorships from other entities on the same terms as the KFC deal? Terry is reporting that PETA sent a wry letter to the City offering the same money for an anti-KFC sponsorship. Can the City lawfully reject it, or might there be First Amendment problems? What if Larry Flint wants a sponsorship? This may end up being more costly than cost saving for the City.

Anonymous said...

That ad is actually not at all racist. The people depicted are not African American, they are West Indian, and have no particular predilection, either in reality or in racist stereotypes, to fried chicken. Additionally, the ad is one of a series of ads in which the protagonist distracts various people, including his family and friends, by using KFC fried chicken so he can watch his sports in peace. It's only racist when you apply customs and mores that are not relevant or applicable to the environment in which the ad aired, and then take the ad out of context. This would be akin to a "V for Victory" hand sign being interpreted as giving someone "the bird" in England. The same action is enormously offensive in one locale, and completely benign in another. All that really means is that the world is diverse, not that anyone is a racist.