[Source] Kentucky Fried Chicken's head office in the US has apologised for "any misinterpretation" caused by a controversial Australian cricket ad as furious debate raged in the American media about whether it was racist.
The commercial, featuring a white Australian cricket fan offering fried chicken to West Indies supporters, has been pulled from the air in Australia.
"KFC Australia is removing the television advertisement that was being run in conjunction with the Australian cricket season," the chicken fast food giant announced in a statement.
"We apologise for any misinterpretation of the ad as it was not meant to offend anyone."
The Australian TV commercial was picked up by the US media, including the New York Daily News and Baltimore Sun, and drew heated debate, with some Americans accusing Australians of being racist because it perpetuates a stereotype that African Americans eat a lot of fried chicken (Don't they? Chicken Licken would disagree).
The ad is one in a series where a cricket lover quietens people around him by giving them KFC to eat so he can enjoy the game.
The New York Daily News staged a poll on its website asking if the ad was offensive.
The vote was almost split, with 51 per choosing "No, it's just lighthearted and fun" while 42 per cent selected "Yes, it plays on stereotypes".
Six per cent voted "I'm not sure".
Readers inundated the newspaper websites with emotional posts.
"This was blatantly racist," one reader commented on the NY Daily News website.
Another wrote: "Yeah, coming from the same people who almost singlehandedly wiped out the whole race of aborogines (sic). You people are the worst. I've had friends who visited Australia and they told me how it is over there".
Australians, upset at the American response, bombarded US news websites and blogs to defend the ad and attempt to explain Australian humour.
"Oh dear," an Australian wrote on the Baltimore Sun site.
"Another shining example of how some Americans can be absolutely clueless about anything further away than the tip of their own nose."
The furore began in the US after the ad was posted on YouTube, attracting thousands of comments and sparking members of the public to post their own video responses.
Hat Tip: Anon