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1:00pm May 21, 2011

Popeyes: Why I Like Annie the Chicken Queen

chicken-annie-590

It turns out that I am not the only one who has a notion that advertising by Popeyes Southern Fried Chicken exploits racial stereotypes.  Social media site members and bloggers are calling the Popeyes campaign racist.

Part of the Popeyes media strategy has been to use “real” people in advertisements.  For its new campaign, the Popeyes spokesperson is “Annie the Chicken Queen,” a straight-talking, feisty Southern black woman telling it like it is about her chicken.  “I work my fanny off making this chicken perfect,” she says, “and they practically give it away.”

AFC Enterprises is the parent company responsible for developing, operating and franchising the Popeyes Chicken brand.  The advertising firm GSD&M Idea City created the campaign.

A statement from Popeyes CMO Dick Lynch said that Annie is meant to be an “honest, vibrant, youthful and authentic” character.

“Everyone has a relative or a good friend who will give it to them straight,” Lynch said, “and that’s what Annie is all about.”

Though the commercial popped up on my genetic “race-dar,” I thought it was borderline.  Others, however, take a stronger view.

A group on Facebook calls for a boycott. “Popeyes Chicken is a restaurant that thrives off of the black community…,” the group states. “Although Popeyes is not the first fast food chain to feature a commercial with racial stereotypes, this recent offering is so OVERT and if it were filmed in black and white it would look like something straight out of Amos and Andy!  If you haven’t seen the commercial I speak of it features an African American Woman in her 40′s who is working at a Popeyes.  The minute the lady open’s her mouth she sounds like a Jive-talking mammy.  It is enough to make a person want to cringe.”

In the latest ad, she even appears in front of a picnic table and a lawn lined with southern oaks.

Are the commercials really racist? I believe they are not.

The first few advertisements were OK, but when they put her on a lawn lined with large Southern oaks, I thought “plantation.”  Then I considered those theories surrounding the origin of  “picnic” as being a social event ending in a lynching (though etymologists may take issue).

But, all that aside, I have to say, I like Annie the Chicken Queen. To me, someone native to the South, she seems familiar. She tugs at my heart with the comforting hospitality of Southern black matriarchs.

The problem may arise in how Popeyes positions her in the campaign. Exploitation is not good.

So, keep an eye on Popeyes, and see where its ad campaign takes Annie, and what she might do next to sell more chicken.

 



About the Author

Britton Loftin
Britton Loftin is a Political Strategist and Director of a Legislative & Government Affairs firm.




 
 

 
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42 Comments


  1. interested voter

    I also like Annie. She does represent a typical down home southern cook. Sometimes we read TOO much into ads and commericials. Forunately, we can pick and choose the things we want and don't want to watch…. if it offends you – DON'T WATCH………


    • rod

      The actress DOESNT talk that way naturally. So she had to have been TOLD to sound like that. She isnt speaking with a southern accent. she is talking like a mammy. And I just saw her on CSI. GUESS WHAT? she played the sassy black woman who talked like she is on the chicken commercials. ALL WHILE THE WHITE ACTORS all sound totally dialect free! THATS why this is offensive. its like blacks or mexicans are only needed if the ad “needs” a black. In other words, “we want to find a black or hispanic that will “sound” what our definition of what the race acts or sounds like” and FORTUNATE FOR THEM, there is no shortage of whites that will react like you see here…”ITS NOT RACIST..GET OVER IT…STOP PLAYING THE RACE CARD” we see those matching comments by whites on EVERY issue dealing with an offensive issue. Regardless of how obvious. The white run media will then find a minority, who will side with them. Cubs owners, actually DOCUMENTED that strategy to throw back at blacks when they planned on racially attacking obama in the election. So whites will quickly say how OTHERS shouldnt take offense when THEY insult others…..while standing in the majority populous.


    • Edward

      Why is this stereo-typing, because the woman is black? Please … on that token, the Pep Boys are all white, so this is stereo-typing. The four men on Mt. Rushmore are all white … again, stereo-typing white people. Sound stupid? Yes, it does, just like what this article implies … stupidity.


      • Edward

        Forgot to add … the person writing this article in black so it’s okay for him to imply something like this. But, if a white guy makes a stupid statement like this, he’s racist. I’m so tired of hearing/seeing black people get a free pass because they are a minority. People today are too damn sensitive and need to get real.


    • Carl

      When I 1st saw this woman and heard that fake Southern accent I thought it was a damn joke. My family is from Louisiana; Many Parish, Shreveport and New Orleans to be exact. Her way of speaking is by far NOTHING like a person from those parts of Louisiana. Ive always loathed the way Popeyes has portrayed Louisiana and the people. I seriously doubt Deidrie Henry is even from Louisiana because there is no masking a true Louisiana accent. She speaks nothing like that in reality. Not even a little but. Popeyes it trying way too hard to sell that chicken. You cant fool real Southern folk Deidrie Henry aka Annie The Chicken Queen. I saw right through that fake accent from the very 1st commercial.


  2. aloysia

    I am a black woman who lives in New Orleans and I am 40. She ANNOYS me. I was so annoyed my the last commercial I had to send Popeyes an email.


    • seanshine

      So what if the ad annoyed you?? It is not racist. If she is speaking the way she naturally does or those who are from Louisianna, what is the Big Fucking Deal!!!! Should she speak like a dignified white person? (I mean no offense to White people at all) We get it… Black people are ALSO EDUCATED PEOPLE and should ALWAYS BE ON 24/7 OF OUR LIVES.


      • Jordan

        She doesnt really talk like that u dummy thats the point! Ur right if she really did talk like that then it would be less of a problem. Have u even been to Louisianna? What is wrong with u? We dont talk like that anymore. This aint Good Times man so stop talkin shit that u dont kno shit about.


        • Joe

          Jordan, your ignorance shows, not only in your content, but your obvious lack of grammar and spelling skills. Now I suppose you’re going to expect all black actors to speak the King’s English. Why don’t you go after Larry the cable guy, he doesn’t really speak like that either, but people love it and that’s the whole point. The only people that need to worry about this “issue” are the staff of Popeyes and “Annie”. Pardon me, but you have really “showed yo ass”, moron. You, and others like you, spend to much time crying about non issues like this when priests and teachers are molesting our children and Muslims are hell bent on killing us because we have a different life style. But I guess you don’t particularly care unless black people are involved. Why don’t you become a card carrying member of the Jesse Jackson fan club… Oh, wait, I guess you already are. This goes for all the rest of you that have a problem with Annie, black, white, or any other race!


      • What annoys me is that the character is taking credit for the company’s products and success when she’s just a promotional invention…and comes across as arrogant in doing so.


    • regina

      It’s a damn chicken commercial..there’s bigger problems in the world today..you say your annoyed but I bet your ass still buy popeyes chicken


      • antonio

        Your statement is exactly why i can not stand behind picky protestors. They want to stop stereotypical advertisements, while they continue to help increase the company’s profit. I guess the chicken is that good.


    • Vincent

      REALLY!!!! I am Black, born in 1956. Although I was a child during civil rights movement, I was raised by parents that saw the important value of being aware of history and what we make of it today. I served in the Army for 6 yrs., during the tail end of the Vietnam war. My career was cut short by friendly fire, because 3 American Air Force AP’s, from Boston, didn’t like the idea Black and Hispanic soldiers dancing with white women in the NCO Club. I went to Washington when we pushed for Martin Luther King Jr. birthday to become a national holiday. I’ve been involved with boycotts for legitimate acts of racial discrimination. I put my money and freedom on the line for what I truly believe in. When Kentucky Friend Chicken boasted about Colonel Sanders secret 12 herbs and spices in his chicken recipe; everyone black, that I knew were outraged and stated that the plantation owning Sanders high jacked the recipe from blacks that possibly worked for him. I saw the opinion more realistic than not, yet those same individuals continue buying the product in the midst of their outrage. Now you want to complain about one of our own who is making an honest and successful living, being the spokesperson for Popeye chicken? There are plenty of real concerns we should sound off on, like the recent murder of 24 yr. old Jonathan Ferrell who was shot multiple times by 27 year old cop, Randall Kerrick in Charlotte N.C. Trayvon Martin is one out of thousands that paid the ultimate price for prejudice. I’m more insulted by our own using the N***GER word as a term of endearment or to sell music, while our people are shot, stabbed, rundown and lynch by people calling them that exact same name while our own take their last breath. Love, respect, educate yourself and your own household. You wouldn’t have time to cry about how Anne looks like a mammy on television. FOOD FOR THOUGHT; During slavery, we where inflicted with every kind of abuse conceived by man. If you are light in complexion, somebody white, bedded your ancestors. Our ancestors were like cattle, own by Caucasians, therefore they weren’t treated like humans. They were branded by whites as verification of ownership. The majority of the weaves you place on your hair to look anything but what you truly are, comes from countries in the middle east. Look at the labels on all the expensive designer clothing and accessories you buy on a regular basis. China, Japan, Korea, Indonesia, etc. appreciate the business from America’s 2nd. largest consumer group yet if we need food to survive, they don’t give a damn. Yet you keep them wealthy. Have you seen the new, 2014 Toyota Carolla commercial with the Black DJ and the 70’s style Soul Train line?
      Far too many of us still wear mastas brand and volunteer to walk the road of slavery to be trendy with those they feel are in. Be wise, (hasta pronto) and choose your battles carefully. There are plenty of them to choose from.


  3. c'mon that's some racist sh#t and is funny how some of our people still eating this junk that's killing us one by one being fat is not only unatractive but it kills you leaving your children without a mom a dad this is food that i eat once in a blue moon at a family gathering eat healthier folks cutt this murderous plot they have on our people


    • Seanshine

      Stop being over dramatic! Just as you're born you fucking dying. Get the fuck out of here! Popeyes Chicken is not the end all of foods that are unhealthy for us. Everyone must know what they should have, how much and for how long. Simple!


    • Joe

      Stupid conspiracy crap, no one is roping you and dragging you into a Popeyes and shoving it down your throat. I enjoy Popeyes occasionally and I’m not obese (slightly paunchy), I accept my responsibility as an adult with respect to everything in my life, including my diet and weight. If you expect people to listen to your point of view come up with something that remotely resembles intelligent thought process. The reason your mom didn’t have a dad is not because of CHICKEN! Ask your mother where the baby daddy is. I’m so tired of hearing victicrats whining about their lives that they decided to destroy, whether it’s alcohol, drugs, food, or anything else that you can over abuse. Long live Annie!


  4. People Republic

    Church!


  5. Everytime I turn on my TV I see white pple most of the time so why not have a African American on a commercial every once in awhile regardless what its advertising! White folks try to take everything! Get with it!


    • Joe

      I appreciate your general point of view, Ebonee, but it’s just not a racist topic, one way or the other. Please keep in mind that there are a lot of white people, therefore, a lot in commercials. I believe that there should be as many black people in commercials, movies, tv, sports, etc. based on what’s profitable for those involved and not based on numbers of how many people of a particular race there are. That’s why it’s ok for black people to dominate sports, for example, and I’m not saying that’s the only example, it’s just the most obvious one. Nobody should be automatically included or excluded because of their race, that’s the true definition of racism, aside from blatant hate based on race. As long as people are upset about who gets what and assuming there exists either a benefit, or lack thereof based on race, racism will live on.


  6. This act is dated, and needs to disappear “faster than an ice cube on a space heater” honey-child.


  7. Nursing Beauty

    I’m hoping I pinch myself and awake from this dream. I cannot believe that you guys are arguing over a commercial. Grant it…each of you have good points but how many of you guys can say you never & still don’t eat from Popeyes? I am a 29 yr old black female , from Louisiana, who was and still at times remain active in my community. When donations are needed this company stepped in and helped out. So as far as the whole racial issue, I can’t see it . I will say this and I’m pretty sure you all heard it before…you can see the glass as being half empty or half full. Put that into play the next time you watch the commercial. We leave in America, land of the free, where everyone has an opinion and are.free to voice it as they please. So if you live in a negative bubble, are racist, or are just plain ignorant it will show when you speak.


  8. Nursing Beauty

    And one more thing. …if you are upset by any cause at all, let it motivate you to take action and make a difference. Back in the day, people made a difference by not only taking a stand but coming together as one. How do we tell our kids love thy neighbor or live in harmony but continuously proclaim one race to be better or sit beneath another? Slavery will never be eradicated if you continue to keep it alive. I feel like if Annie is not complaining why are you.


  9. I’m Irish and I can make a pretty good corned beef and cabbage. I learned from my parents who were Irish. I know someone who is Italian and they taught me how to make a mean eggplant parmegian (sp) and in my travels, I am sorry to say this but those of black heritage just know how to make chicken. I’ve been to KFC with white people and the chicken is not as good as one run by someone who is black. They just have a superior knack for frying chicken. I don’t see her as a black woman but someone who is enticing me to eat the chicken from Popeye’s and I got to tell you, Popeye’s is the best chicken I have ever had. I even eat their bisquits without butter.

    I don’t like dark meat unless you get it from Popeye’s. There is just something about the way the make it. Especially the spicy. If I see their sign, I salivate.

    If you think I am racist because I think black people are superior at making chicken, I would think that is a little ignorant.

    I think the Chinese make Chinese food better than anyone else. Is that being racist?

    Granted, there are probably a few out there that shouldn’t go anywhere near a chicken but those are far and few between.


    • Joe

      AMEN, Beauty! Well spoken, you are a shining example of someone who understands and is able to make a coherent point. I am proud to share this earth with human beings that have a true love for the others, even if those others lack the ability to understand the way you do. I firmly believe that the more you rail about this problem, the more power you give those that have the ignorant belief that they are superior to others based on race.


      • James

        Joe,
        Your point is well taken. However, while you are right that particular ethnic groups excel in cooking certain types of food. The issue that we are facing here is not whether it is true or not, or if we do have the freedom of speech… It is that in an extremely diversified country we as Americans have to take into consideration the negativity of stereotyping or offending people. A good example of this is the ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court in NAACP Vs. The State of Georgia. The ruling in that case determined that the state of Georgia had to remove the Georgia regiment battle flag down from over the capital building. Why? Because while it was simply a regiment battle flag, it was and still is thought of by many of the confederate flag. However, as I stated before. It is not what is true or not. It is how it is perceived.


    • Joe

      Martin! Black people can’t automatically make great chicken, it’s the recipe. There are a lot of people working at Popeyes that aren’t black. I suppose you think they grow the best watermelon too? Now that’s bordering on racism! Now, where the recipe came from is of great importance, and it’s from the Louisiana culture and, yes, Virginia, there are a lot of black people there, DUH!


    • TL

      Funny. Popeye’s was created by a white kid named Al Copeland. He developed the recipes and founded the company which manufactured the spices still used in the restaurant chain.


  10. Joe

    By the way, Britton Lofton is a good example of the continuing perpetration of racist attitudes, looking for anything to bitch about. It doesn’t surprise me at all that he’s a “Political Strategist and Director of a Legislative & Government Affairs firm”. Is that supposed to be impressive? Just another example of a useless position that is unnecessary and people are afraid to call him out on this, because he’s a black man OOOOOOH! It’s this stupid stereotyping that develops his mentality. He should try thinking for himself, instead of drinking the koolaid because it’s good for his “career”.


  11. William

    ‘Annie’ is played by an actress, Deidre Henry, who is as smart and talented as she is beautiful. I know her to be a strong woman, proud of herself and her heritage, and wouldn’t be playing this role – and yes, it IS a role – if she found it in any way demeaning to herself or her race. She is playing a woman who wants you to come eat some of her delicious friend chicken at Popeye’s. Would the campaign be as effective with a white woman? an Asian man? a talking baby? Probably not. Does that make it racist or just smart marketing? Deidre’s happy to be bringing home a pretty nice paycheck for playing Annie until the campaign runs its course. I would be, too! She’s a wonderful singer as well, and this exposure can only help her career. And Popeye’s has really good chicken, so I can’t fault her for false advertising, either!


    • James

      William,

      You sound like the typical white trash beget that cares about nobody but himself and would sell out for a paycheck…

      Now, was that fair to say? No, because it is a general stereotype based a statement you made.

      Furthermore, it does not matter the actress’ perception of the role she is playing. It is the perception of the millions of Americans that have to see the commercial again and again.


    • Vinny

      Well said William!


  12. sandi

    Racist or not racist, its just STUPID. She constantly refers to the product as “hers”. NOT even close to believable. What was she? Maybe 5 when Popeyes was started, show me ANY woman white or black around 60 and I MIGHT believe its “her” chicken. Just insulting to the intelligence.


  13. Athelstane

    I adore Annie. She is like every Southern Lady I know (I was born and raised in Alabama, 30 years military, and back home) along with most of my People. Plus, I love the Chicken. Not as good as my wife’s but it still tastes like home.


  14. Sean

    I don’t find the commercials racist, but then i’m an American of Irish descent, and whiter than Casper the Friendly Ghost. I just think she’s a very beautiful woman making commercials for some pretty good chicken. Since I watch them, and buy the product, I’d say their marketing works. Lord knows I have contributed to Popeye’s cash registers regularly. Now if “Annie” would just run off into the sunset and jump the broom with me, all would be right with the world. Y’all don’t try to read so much into it. Relax, have a piece of chicken. Hell, have two, they’ll make more.


  15. Burnone

    I have one issue with the commercials. She says,” it’s her chicken as if it’s her company”. I’m confused or understand the commercial wrong. The reason I say this is because she doesn’t represent the chain of Popeye’s as the owner or do she. Also as far as racist is concern, well now chicken is known to be associated with our kind and since that is so why wouldn’t they use our own people to entice use to make money off us. LOL We are the fools. They do it all the time.


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  17. Vinny

    It is the same concept that we had years ago with Aunt Jemima or Uncle Ben, it was ok then for their faces to be on food products for advertisers to sell but now they have a problem with Annie. Get out of town, if you are that picky about looking at the color of the person in the ad and not paying attention to the product, you need some help. And why wouldn’t it be ok to target the population that is the biggest consumer of their product? Whether it is KFC or Popeyes if you like it eat it and if not stay stop causing controversy. As others stated in previous posts worry about more important things in life.


  18. Sara Brooks

    I don’t like the way she says “my chicken”, uh hello? She is a spokesperson making people think she is the owner of the company.


  19. Nola

    Al Copeland (a white guy) started Popeye’s in New Orleans and was also the creator of the recipe for the chicken. Even after his death he still owns the rights “Although Copeland lost Popeyes in the bankruptcy, he retained the rights to some Popeyes recipes and products.[1] He manufactured the spices through his Diversified Foods & Seasonings plants located in Metairie, Madisonville, New Orleans, Mobile, San Antonio and Nebraska City. The Diversified Foods & Seasonings contract with Popeyes extends through 2025″


  20. AnitAnnie

    This lady does not have a clue about culture in Louisiana. If she did she wouldn’t tell people she is going to put Cajun blood in them. Cajun are racist white people who live in Southwestern Louisiana and have mistreated blacks for years.


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  22. Erma

    I really like Popeye’s. I had never tried it before I saw Annie in a commercial. Why does anyone really care that she is black? If I could make the money she made to do a commercial I certainly would. I know there will be flack, but for heavens sake can’t we get past racism. I like her and she does a good job on the commercials.



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