Friday, February 09, 2007

Grin and bear it

Let the record show that the National Restaurant Association has no beef with Kevin Federline. We can only presume it’s also hunky-dory with Angelina Jolie, Clay Aiken and Madonna. But don’t be surprised if it takes to the mattresses soon in its ongoing feud with Nationwide Insurance.

As was reported here earlier, the association sent a letter to Nationwide before the Super Bowl, objecting to an ad the insurance conglomerate would be airing during the game. It blasted the company for running an ad that portrayed Federline in a fast-food job, a suggestion that he’s hit rock-bottom since getting the heave-ho from significant-other Britney Spears. The NRA said it’d heard the commercials were a real slam on working in restaurants, and demanded that Nationwide pull the spot. If not, it said, members would be told about Nationwide’s intransigence, and many of those restaurants are no doubt customers. As even Federline must have realized, it was a barely bridled threat.

Nationwide went ahead and aired the ad, which was milder than elevator music in a convent. It poked a little fun at Federline, noting how he daydreams about being a rap star when he’s actually scooping orders of fries. But many commentators thought the NRA had over-reacted, seeing malice where most found only humor, and I unhesitatingly include myself in that group.

Regrettably, the NRA couldn’t stop there. On Wednesday, it sent another letter to Nationwide CEO Jerry Jurgensen, expressing “deep disappointment” with the company’s decision to run the ad despite the group’s no-show request. At least Federline had apologized, the NRA noted.

The association acknowledged that the spot was probably not intended to be provocative, and it didn’t press the earlier warning that Nationwide’s foodservice customers would be told of the perceived slap at the trade. But then it folded to hypersensitivity and political correctness: “Using humor that offends others is not the right approach to take,” scolded NRA CEO Steve Anderson, who’ll be leaving the job on Feb. 23. “Implying that a certain job represents failure is simply not acceptable.”

He also challenged Nationwide to run a follow-up commercial that “more accurately portrays our industry and its workforce.”

So what would the spot show? That working a fry station is such a great job that the holder would never dream of being a rap star in the company of beautiful women? That he’d rather be wearing a quick-service uniform than sporting bling and the threads of a millionaire?

I greatly respect and appreciate the NRA, but I think it’s playing this situation wrong. It should just leave it be and move on, to real slights of the trade.


  1. I thought that soon after the Super Bowl, we would forget many of the commercials and move on to really important things. Unfortunately, the NRA doesn't have an ounce of humor and can't see the ad for what it simply was - a self-deprecation of Kevin Federline.

    I feel that the NRA would be better served to spend its time working on issues of assisting minorities in the workforce, healthcare, etc.

    Maybe the NRA should be known as the NFL (No Fun League) instead.

  2. So now that Britney has shaved her head and plastered a couple of tats on her body, K-Fed is now looking like the responsible one!