About a month or so ago, KFC debuted a string of “Extra Crispy” commercials, highlighting their five-dollar fill-up boxes, and the extra crispy chicken preferred to the original recipe. I am not sure how many people have seen the commercials, but I truly feel offended when I watch them.
The ad entitled “Tray”introducing the new Extra Crispy Colonel, George Hamilton, opens with a scene of coconuts, palm trees and a green-screen ocean in the background while the Colonel lounges on a beach chair holding a silver, tri-folded tanning tray (which is covering his face).
“Welcome. I am the extra-crispy Colonel.” He greets, and removes the tray which reveals an olive-skinned Hamilton. I can’t help but wonder, if KFC was going this route with their marketing, why not just use an actual man of color? Why must the colored version of the Colonel remind me of the ever so belittling ‘black-face’ of times past?
The short, fifteen second promotion doesn’t say much more than that, but the quick appearance speaks plenty. There is another plug, called “Extra-Crispy Boy” in which a mom asks her son what he wants for lunch as she relaxes and reads a magazine at the on-set beach. Before she can answer, out pops a snazzy white-suited Colonel, holding a tray where a five-dollar fill-up box rests. After a cameo of the food, the boy bites the fried chicken leg and instantly “tans.”
The boy then asks the Colonel, “Am I an extra crispy boy?” The Colonel slurps an empty cup and replies, “Sure kid.”
Again, why not just use a kid of color? Why even promote this at all, with seemingly no cultural sensitivity in such a racially fragile America? KFC should essentially scratch this line of advertising altogether.
Watching these and other ads from across the world, there are quite a few questionable commercials that Kentucky Fried Chicken has had to pull due to ‘racial’ offense. At this stage in the game, ‘simple tan jokes’ are not a reasonable explanation for this particular angle. Last I checked, people who tan, only get the type of tans in the ad by spray-on. If the message is as simple as extra-crispy equals tanned skin, why doesn’t the skin match that of a person who actually tans, which is red and slightly burnt? The spicy, red-hot chicken they promoted last year would fit this line of ads better. But then I presume it would be offensive to those that turn red when they tan…right?
Furthermore, Original recipe is darker in color compared to its extra-crispy counterpart. So, technically there really is no basis for this line of advertising in the first place.
For years, this company has perpetuated the stereotype that ‘black people love chicken’, and have done so by toeing the line of what brings attention versus offense. Is this a good marketing strategy, or just finger-lickin’ foolish decision making by corporate elites?
Once you equate a person’s skin tone with that of piece of fried chicken, I don’t know how it could not be taken offensively.
Take a look at the videos below and tell me what’s your take.