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ASA Mother KFC

KFC falls fowl of ASA for daring allusion to the F-word


By Imogen Watson, Senior reporter

December 4, 2019 | 3 min read

KFC has flown too close to the sun with its daring ads that allude to the F-word, resulting in a ban from the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).

KFC falls fowl of ASA for daring allusion to the F word

KFC falls fowl of ASA for daring allusion to the F word

Created by Mother, a campaign with the tagline 'What the Cluck? broke in April to promote the fast food joint’s value chicken range. The ads were spotted at bus stops and other outdoor sites in September, as well as in print in the Metro and the Sun.

Alarms were raised by concerned citizens who complained the ads were offensive and challenged whether they were appropriate for display where they could be seen by children.

In its defence, KFC said it did not agree that the claim included a word which was a substitute for an expletive.

Instead, it argued the phrase ‘what the cluck?’ represented customers' response to great value KFC. The word ‘cluck’, it said, was used as an onomatopoeic reference to the noise of a chicken.

In response, the ASA said while it understood the word ‘cluck’ was a reference to the sound a chicken made, it determined that people would most likely interpret it to allude to the expression ‘what the fuck'.

Considering that ‘fuck’ was a word likely to offend, it told KFC to avoid alluding to expletives in the future.

Using swear words – or words that rhyme with swear words – in advertising is a risky venture for brands. Last month, the ASA launched an investigation into Brewdog after it received a number of complaints over its ‘sober as a motherfu’ campaign.

ASA Mother KFC

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