Chicken Licken its wounds

2004-05-19 00:00

The controversy over Chicken Licken’s TV commercial spoofing the advertising of its fast-food rival, Kentucky Fried Chicken, continues. Immediately after the first of four planned flightings of its apology to KFC, as ordered by the Advertising Standards Authority, Chicken Licken placed another commercial mocking the apology, whereupon the ASA immediately withdrew the rest of the flightings and is considering what further steps to take.

Chicken Licken was ordered by the ASA appeal committee to pay for four flightings, one on each of the free-to-air TV channels, carrying an apology – or “adverse publicity statement” – for the previous ad. The offending commercial depicted a Colonel Sanders lookalike visiting the Chicken Licken campaign’s “Dr Phunk” to help restore his strength. A nurse flashing her boobs doesn’t do it, but a Chicken Licken pack does the job, and he declares it “Chicken Licken good” – approximating the KFC slogan, “finger-lickin’ good”.

The ASA ruled that this exploited KFC’s advertising goodwill and was an imitation of KFC’s advertising.

In the penalty ad, the apology is scrolled down the screen against a static background of the ASA logo and its “three wise monkeys” icons. Then the counter-blast from Chicken Licken, prepared in advance by ad agency Net#work BBDO for just such an eventuality, shows Dr Phunk apologising in a sarcastic tone, and making a “piece offering” of pieces of Chicken Licken at a special price. In a corner of the screen, the original offending ad is shown in a blurred form with a “censored” sign over it and the Colonel Sanders character blocked out. This appeared on SABC1 on Tuesday and was to have been followed by single flightings each night on one of e-tv, SABC2 and SABC3.

ASA executive director Deline Beukes says the board decided the second ad “trivialises” the reasons for the contravention of ASA rules and the penalty imposed, and was not in the spirit of the ruling. “Until this matter can be investigated, the ASA will not continue with the adverse publicity statement. We will explore what further action will be taken.”

There appears to be no clause in the ASA code that covers the matter, but if Kentucky Fried Chicken complains, then the ASA will clearly have a basis on which to proceed. Peter Schumacher, financial director of Net#work BBDO, says the intention of the second commercial was to “restore the damage to, and the public’s faith in, the Chicken Licken brand after the flighting of the adverse publicity statement.”