KFC has suspended a U.K. campaign that focuses on finger-licking after the Advertising Standards Authority received multiple complaints that the content was inappropriate during the coronavirus outbreak.
The campaign, created by Mother London, capitalized on the brand’s long-running “finger lickin' good” tagline, with a TV spot that turns post-chicken finger-licking into a sensual experience by setting it to piano music by Chopin. It also included billboards with the words: “It's” and “good” positioned around the mouths of people licking their fingers. A content series focusing on “finger licking etiquette” was also planned.
A spokesperson for KFC said: “It doesn’t feel like the right time to be airing this campaign, so we’ve decided to pause it for now—but we’re really proud of it and look forward to bringing it back at a later date.”
An ASA spokesman told AdAge that it had received 163 complaints about the campaign so far, saying: “We have been in touch with KFC, who had already taken the decision to withdraw the ad before we had informed them of the complaints. On that basis, we won’t be taking any further action on this occasion.”
The campaign launched in late February, before the U.K. government started emphasizing the importance of hand hygiene due to the growing coronavirus outbreak in Europe. At the time, Dhiren Karnani, marketing manager at KFC UK & Ireland, said the campaign was intended to “re-ignite the meaning back into the phrase we all know and grew up with.”
The suspension of the KFC work is the latest in a series of unfortunately timed campaigns that advertisers have hurriedly pulled, including a Coors Light push based around being “the official beer of working remotely” and Hershey ads that centered on hugs and handshakes.