Mary J. Blige: I Was Hurt by Public Reaction to Burger King Ad

The Queen of Hip Hop-Soul breaks her silence on controversial commercial.

Posted: 06/27/2012 08:25 PM EDT

It’s been two months since R&B great Mary J. Blige received a hail of criticism for her participation in a Burger King ad that went, in her words, “terribly wrong.”

Aside from a standard statement from her public relations team, Blige has been quiet until today [June 27], when she sat down with Hot 97’s radio personality Angie Martinez to discuss the much-lampooned commercial that was characterized by many as offensive to African-Americans for its presumed promotion of the stereotype that Blacks love chicken. The Grammy Award winner admits the advertisement was a mistake, but she was certainly misrepresented in the version of the ad that leaked online. MJB swore she went into the opportunity with good intentions, but things did not work out as planned.

“It’s just something I thought would have been a great branding opportunity, that’s what I thought it was,” Blige said. “I went online to listen to the remix I did with Fat Joe and I’m looking for that [song] ‘Another Round’ and all I could see was Burger King and chicken and the buffoonery. It just broke my heart. People were just going crazy and I understand the laughter and the jokes and the stuff that was happening. That’s all good. You’re supposed to do that when something like that happens. It made people’s websites go up. It made people get more ratings on their radio stations, but the thing that hurt me is when people started to say vicious negative things that didn’t happen.”  

Asked by Martinez why she didn’t respond when the public visceral was at its peak, Blige said, “Everyone was doing what they were doing and saying what they were saying and I just felt that there was no need for me to say anything. Everyone was running with it and just crucifying me and going crazy. I said it’s too much going on for me to try to stick my head out there and say anything, so I just pulled back and I watched everyone and everything.”

While her management team did issue a response immediately after the firestorm erupted, Blige said her quiet observation of the criticism taught her a lot.

“What this did was exposed everyone and everything that was in my life and it showed me who my friends are,” Blige said. “But so many people reached out to me on a level of we knew what you were trying to do. We saw how it went terribly wrong.”

To those people and the many that were offended by the ad, the multi-talented entertainer issued a mea culpa.

“It was a mistake when you look at it at the end of the day, because people look at it as a mistake, but I did it as something that wouldn’t come out like that,” Blige admits. “I want to apologize to everyone who was offended who thought that I would do something that was so disrespectful to our culture. I would never do anything like that. I thought I was doing something right.”

As for the rumors that she was paid over $2 million for the spot, Blige dismissed those claims.  

“It wasn’t a money thing; it was about a branding opportunity.”

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