Nothing could have prepared Mary J. Blige for the firestorm of criticism that rained down on her in April when she appeared in a controversial Burger King ad that was panned for being tasteless. Nearly three months later, she’s finally sharing her side of the story, admitting that she was “crushed” by the backlash.
The ad, intended to promote Burger King’s revamped menu, found Mary on top of a table, belting out the ingredients to the Crispy Chicken Snack Wrap over the melody of her song “Don’t Mind.” The backlash was immediate. Hours after the ad appeared online, Burger King pulled it from their YouTube channel, later citing music-licensing issues. But it was clear from comments, tweets and Facebook posts why the clip really vanished.
In the midst of the chaos, Mary released a statement apologizing for the “unfinished” ad , but during a Thursday interview with NYC radio station Hot 97, she admitted how deeply the whole fiasco cut her.
“I just felt like there was no need for me to say anything, because everyone was crucifying me and going crazy,” she said about remaining mum at the time. “I pulled back and watched everyone and everything, [because] it’s just something that I thought would’ve been a great branding opportunity. I went online to listen to the remix that I did with Fat Joe, I’m looking for ‘Another Round,’ and all I could see is Burger King, chicken and buffoonery, and it just broke my heart.
“I understood the laughter and the jokes and the stuff that was happening — you’re supposed to do that when something like that happens — but the thing that hurt me is when people were starting to say vicious, negative things that didn’t have [anything] to do with that,” she continued. “It exposed everyone and everything in my life and showed me who my friends are.”
Mary said that a few people reached out with comforting words while she was “wanting to crawl under the bed,” but she also took notice of those who tried to distance themselves from the project. “I had to go to the airport the next day, when it was hot off the press, and I just held my head up,” she said. “It was a mistake and I did it because I thought it was something that wouldn’t come out like that. No one had mercy, and it’s cool, it was a learning experience. It hurt my feelings, it crushed me for two days, but after those two days, I got up and I kept going. I want to apologize to everyone that was offended or thought I would do something so disrespectful to our culture. I would never do anything like that purposely.”