The fast food industry is up in arms about an ad set to air during next Sunday's Super Bowl XLI. The ad, for insurance company Nationwide Insurance, puts Britney Spears' ex, Kevin Federline, in the role of a loser working at a fast food restaurant.
In the ad, rapper Federline is seen living an existence of fame and fortune, until the end, when it is revealed he was daydreaming and is actually working at a burger joint.
Now, the National Restaurant Association, a group that represents almost a million restaurants in the US, is taking umbrage with the ad. NRA head Steven Anderson has written to Nationwide complaining that the ad makes it look as if working at a fast food restaurant is degrading and demeaning.
"An ad such as this would be a strong and a direct insult to the 12.8 million Americans who work in the restaurant industry," wrote Anderson in his letter. "Developing creative concepts that accomplish the marketing strategies for a product should not require denigrating another industry."
Federline, also known as "K-Fed," was unceremoniously dumped by pop star Spears last year, and his record Playing With Fire sold only 6,500 units in the week after its October release. In a statement, Nationwide said the ad was simply playing on the real-life joke that is Kevin Federline's life.
"In this commercial we are using a humorous characterization of Kevin Federline's life to encourage others to prepare for sudden changes in their lives," said the statement. "The intent of the ad isn't to offend or insult the many fine individuals who work in the restaurant industry. The focus of the ad is the element of surprise, not the setting of a fast food restaurant."
Of course, now that the punchline has been revealed, the element of surprise is gone.
The Super Bowl is the biggest TV event of the year, and companies prep their ads far in advance and pay top dollar for them to air during the game. Last year's game was watched by 141 million total viewers. Check out TV.com's Super Bowl Commercial Feature to vote on your favorites.