This Whole Foods Obama chicken ad misfires badly
In Manhattan's notoriously liberal Upper West Side, residents' complaints force the organic grocery chain to pull an ad they considered racist.
It's the home of Lincoln Center, the Museum of Natural History, Barnard and Juilliard.
It's just not the kind of place where Whole Foods (WFM) can put up an illustration of President Barack Obama touting the grocer's chicken special and expect folks to shrug it off as anything but racist. Yet the Whole Foods on 97th Street and Columbus Avenue put up just such a caricature earlier this week before receiving a flood of complaints.
A Whole Foods spokesman told The Huffington Post that the location ditched its caricature of the president selling organic chicken "once it was brought to our attention by a shopper that it may be perceived as offensive." Judging by the neighborhood's reaction, that's an understatement at best.
"There are certain things that have been used to put down black people," neighbor Woody Henderson told NBC 4 New York.
The same Whole Foods spokesman said the store's artists created various pop-culture images to promote sales and events, and that the image wasn't meant to be offensive. Were the depiction of President Obama selling Whole Foods' 365-brand cereal, it might not have offended anyone. However, the specific combination of the image and the product being sold didn't sit well with folks on the Upper West Side's streets.
"Even if he's not the president, you're going to have an African-American promoting the sale of chicken?" Jason Nunez of the Bronx asked NBC. "They can do better than that."
This hasn't been the first culture clash for Whole Foods and its clientele. Back in January, CEO John Mackey went on National Public Radio and compared the new health care law to fascism. He's also unsettled his notoriously left-leaning consumer base by identifying himself as a libertarian in 2005 and questioning employees' right to health care in 2009.
While slip-ups like the Obama ad may fly in places like Kentucky, where a man who put a mannequin of the president eating a watermelon on his front lawn didn't see how it could be construed as racist, the Upper West Side isn't a great place to play the "Who, us racist?" game.
"I don't think you can find a more pro-Democratic neighborhood," Whole Foods neighbor Jeffrey Schaper told NBC. "They're sort of shooting themselves in the foot."
it seems to me that more and more african americans are becoming the racists. no matter what one tries to say or display, someone always sees it as being racist. here's an example, i worked with a guy whose last name was knune. i asked Mr. knune to come into my office, when he arrived, he said was that a racist remark? i looked in bewilderment and said, no, its your last name isn't it? ...
I think his picture should be put on the roll and every square of charmen .
So let me get this straight, New Yorkers think the sign is racist because it is unlikely an African-American can afford to shop at Whole Foods?
Or because African-Americans don't eat organic chicken?
IF IT WOULD OF BEEN COLLARD GREENS AND CHITLINS IT WOULD OF BEEN OK.
MAYBE BABY BACK RIBS WOULD OF BEEN OK.
THERE NEEDS TO BE AN END TO THIS RACIST THING.
Nobody can make fun of anything without the RACIST THING being brought in.
THESE COMPLAINERS NEED TO GET A LIFE OR GET OUT.
Useless diatribe again. Who cares? Tired of the whole racist card being played at anything like this. As a 'Caucasian female', I'm really bored with all the crap from all the races on the planet. Can we all just be rational and use our common sense? What a bunch of bull.
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