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in brief: kfc ‘pervy pilates’ ad cleared by advertising standards board

Still from KFC advertisement, Ogilvy Sydney

Still from KFC advertisement, Ogilvy Sydney

The ‘Say It With Chicken’ KFC ad featuring a man thanking his mate (with chicken) for introducing him to the joys of Pilates has been cleared by the Advertising Standards Board, despite receiving a number of complaints.

The ad (by creative agency Ogilvy Sydney) features the men looking out across a class of lycra-clad women, who bend over in front of them.

One complainant wrote that the ad:

dehumanises women and turns them into mere sex objects for the ogling of men. It is a disgusting indictment of humanity and equates men with rabid animals that exist only to consumes women. Disgraceful. While it’s meant to be funny, I feel like this sort of ad perpetuates the view that men are free to perv on women’s bodies in public places i.e. if women are wearing tight clothing and exercising in public, then men are free to ogle them and even congratulate each other for doing so.

KFC owner Yum Restaurants dismissed the criticism, aligning the ad with other ‘male-oriented’ campaigns. That this serves as a defence of a widely-viewed ad that promotes the idea that it’s permissible to blatantly objectify women is problematic of itself. Seemingly, the ASB agrees, allowing the campaign to continue.

Another KFC ad from the same campaign also received criticism for being ‘misogynistic’. In response, the ASB said: ‘The Board noted that the target audience for the product and the advertisement is young male adults and is designed to be light-hearted and humorous so that it connects with the target market. The Board agreed that the relevant audience would recognise the scenarios and the advertisement would have relevance for the young males it is targeting.’ The ad was also cleared for public viewing.

Contents of other ads recently cleared by the ASB include animal-cruelty and a News Limited poster alluding to a handbag as a former cow named Debbie.

The most complained about advertisement in the UK is also from KFC. It features call-centre workers singing with their mouths full, and reportedly received 1,671 complaints. In Australia, the most complained about ad of the decade comes from Nando’s, featuring a pole-dancing woman.

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