A KFC advertisement that shows an Australian cricket supporter giving fried chicken to West Indies fans has caused outrage in the US, where it has been interpreted as racist.
In the ad, part of KFC's "Cricket Survival Guide" series, Mick the Australian is surrounded by dancing West Indies fans, and says: "Need a tip when you're stuck in an awkward situation?"
He then hands out a bucket of KFC to the crowd — an action which has been seen as supporting a long-standing US stereotype that African Americans eat fried chicken.
A statement from KFC Australia this morning confirmed the company was aware the ad had been "misinterpreted by a segment of people in the US".
"It is a light-hearted reference to the West Indian cricket team," the statement read.
"The ad was reproduced online in the US without KFC's permission, where we are told a culturally-based stereotype exists, leading to the incorrect assertion of racism.
"We unequivocally condemn discrimination of any type and have a proud history as one of the world's leading employers for diversity."
In the US bloggers and journalists have claimed the ad is deliberately racist, with the Baltimore Sun even suggesting the ad might be part of a viral prank.
Popular viral media website Buzzfeed posted the video with the subtitle: "What's a white guy to do when he awkwardly finds himself in a crowd full of black folks? KFC has the answer."
Dr Brendon O'Connor, an associate professor at the University of Sydney, said reaction to the ad reflected the "insularity" of the American people.
"They have a tendency to think that their history is more important than that of other countries," he told ninemsn.
But Dr O'Connor, who is currently writing a book about US stereotypes, also said it was important to realise that when taken out of context the ads could look racist.
"Fried chicken is seen as a traditional southern food ... a staple of an African American diet," he said.
"We don't have many African American people here and we don't have these stereotypes.
"Americans would find the ads racist mostly because they don't realise the context that the West Indies team was here to play cricket."
Dr Peter Gale, a senior lecturer at the University of South Australia, said the ad could affect Australia's reputation internationally — especially in the wake of the Hey Hey It's Saturday blackface scandal
"Even when we're doing advertising we need to be careful about pre-existing historical stereotypes," Dr Gale said.
"We have got a responsibility to be aware of that, and I think that if the media doesn't wise up we're in a lot of trouble."