When your commercial gets as much press as the product it’s selling, you know your ad agency’s done a good job. After all, all press is good press right? KFC is getting a little extra international press today after the Advertising Standards Authority released a Top Ten list of its most complained-about ads of 2011 and of all time. Topping the all-time list was ad from 2005 titled “Zinger,” hawking the franchise’s Zinger Crunch Salad.
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Obviously you’re dying to see the salacious offending commercial, so without further ado here it is:
This is what’s so offensive it racked up 1,671 complaints, more than any other commercial aired in the 50 years that the ASA has been in business? It’s up against some seriously hard-hitting contenders featuring violence, sex, and graphic drug use. Not that the KFC commercial is inoffensive, either – to the contrary, it commits quite a few atrocities:
- Another commercial built around a terrible earworm of a song. This ranks up there with Five Dollar Footlongs on the cacophony scale, but it’s juuuuuust catchy enough that we know it’s going to be rattling around in our heads all day.
- Annoying nonsensical slang. We get that “nightmare” didn’t fit the beat of the song, but could she not have maybe complained that the salsa is a drag to get out? A pain to get out? A chore to get out? Does anyone actually shorten nightmare to ‘mare? All aboard the Caramel train to Blissville, ROTFLOL.
- With Posh Spice still reigning as a well-married international superstar, it’s just too depressing to think that meanwhile Baby Spice’s career has been reduced to this. (*This is a lie. Jokes!)
But none of that is anything we'd go calling Advertising Standards Authority about it. But then again, we're not British. So what’s the big deal, Britain? The Guardian speculates that it has to do with the country’s obsession with good table manners:
My thoroughly scientific analysis of the ASA's data brings up several recurring themes, namely: sex, God and boobs. But the existence of a divine entity and the prominence of cleavage are universally hot topics; they say little about the idiosyncrasies of British mores. The fact that the most complained-about ad of all time concerned table manners, however, does seem to suggest that questions of etiquette are what keep this country awake at night. This particularly British sense of propriety manifests itself in everything from queuing to self-deprecation to replying to every third sentence with "sorry".
Jezebel’s Katie J.M. Baker counterargues that the part so many took offense to was probably the end, when it’s made clear that the setting is an emergency helpline and Baby Spice responds to an undoubtedly distressed caller with a sloppy mouth full of chicken zinger and tortilla bits. That’s pretty insensitive, sure, but it still seems like overreacting to call the authorities about it, especially when there are things out there every day that are so much worse.
The world may never know. But in the meantime, KFC probably made out like controversy-courting bandits with the Zinger Crunch salads.