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‘Did You and Your Team Really Think About This?’: KFC Canada Executive Gets Put on Blast for Campaign That Seemed to Reinforce Negative Stereotypes About Black People

Social media was hot as cooking grease after an executive from KFC shared a new advertisement campaign for the brand.

Black people associated the photos with the long-held stereotypes about African-Americans and chicken, blasting the creative for being short-sighted and culturally dense.

Photos of billboards featuring KFC’s new campaign in Canada. (Photos: Twitter/@AzimAkhtar_)

Azim Akhtar, the director of marketing for KFC Canada, is under fire after posting images from a new campaign for Kentucky Fried Chicken. The ad includes scenes of Black people devouring pieces of chicken and licking their fingers. One can only see the people through the reflection of various forms of silverware.

The goal was to personify the decades-old slogan that KFC chicken is “finger-licking good.”

Akhtar, so impressed with the campaign, posted on X, “Sorry utensils. It’s finger lickin’ good. Latest campaign, I couldn’t be more proud!”

At first, the marketer received glowing praise for the campaign, but after a while, many on X pointed to a deeper stereotype that he and his team overlooked.

“Did you and your team really think about this? About the optics of using only Black people in this campaign?” one person asked on X. “Did anything about how the history of Black people eating chicken in media is tied to slavery and Jim Crow? If not, I seriously suggest you do some research.”

Another person mockingly posted, “Could’ve used Hattie McDaniels for this stereotypical propaganda.”

The striking issue for so many was that stills of the actors cast in the commercial were all Black.

Once aware of the backlash, Akhtar took to his personal profile and responded.

“My earlier post didn’t capture the full diversity of our latest campaign and I personally apologize for not being more thoughtful in my excitement to share the campaign and only sharing certain photos. Here is the 60-second spot that is more representative of Canada’s diversity and our creative,” he wrote on social media.


People continued to trash him, saying he still did not address using Black people in the images to lead the campaign.

“You still not answering the actual issue, nor showing the other races in the Billboard,” one person said. “Says a lot about you if this is what has you pressed and not the optics you yourself know is problematic.”

Others took this as an opportunity to teach and stretch Akhtar and his team, extending an opportunity for them to understand diversity and inclusion in their corporate marketing strategies.

“Folks would prefer the full diversity to be present across every medium. The concept was great—you just missed the mark with execution,” one person commented. “I hope the feedback you’ve received over the past day or so helps you and your team to nail it next time.”

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