A spokesperson for Whole Foods says that a store on Manhattan’s Upper West Side has taken down an advertisement that featured Barack Obama’s likeness, but insisted the company meant “no disrespect” by using the nation’s first African-American president to sell chicken.
Upper West Side resident Woody Henderson contacted WNBC after he saw the sign advertising whole organic chicken for $1.99 a pound. The advertisement sat outside the store’s entrance and included a color drawing of the president.
“There are certain things that have been used to put down black people: watermelon, fried chicken,” Henderson explained.
“Even if he’s not the president, you’re going to have an African-American promoting the sale of chicken?” Bronx resident Jason Nunez agreed. “They can do better than that.”
Whole Foods spokesperson Michael Sinatra told WNBC that the sign was put up earlier in the week and that the company regularly used drawings of pop culture figures to sell products.
Sinatra said the sign was removed “once it was brought to our attention by a shopper that it may be perceived as offensive.”
“There was no disrespect meant at all,” he insisted.
But Henderson isn’t buying that explanation.
“If that same employee had drawn a picture of a naked woman sitting with her legs wide open and put it in front of the store, what they’re basically saying is they wouldn’t have known nothing about it or it had nothing to do with them,” Henderson asserted. “They are responsible.”
Resident Jeffrey Schaper pointed out that the Whole Foods strategy didn’t make any sense because the Upper West Side was a liberal area.
“I don’t think you can find a more pro-Democratic neighborhood,” Schaper observed. “They’re sort of shooting themselves in the foot. It is pretty outrageous.”
Watch this video from WNBC, broadcast Feb. 20, 2013.