Image Source: Unsplash
In the world of advertisements, KFC has always been known for its bold and innovative strategies. However, its recent campaign in Canada has ignited a wave of criticism, particularly on the social media platform, Twitter. This controversy was due to the perceived racial insensitivity in the billboards associated with the campaign.
KFC, a renowned global restaurant chain, has a long-standing slogan, “It’s finger lickin’ good”. The recent campaign was an attempt to reinforce this slogan in a witty and unconventional manner.
Azim Akhtar, the director of marketing for KFC Canada, enthusiastically shared images from the campaign. These images featured the reflections of two Black men and a woman of color in silverware as they indulged in their chicken meals, reinforcing the tagline, “Sorry, utensils. It’s finger lickin’ good”.
“Latest campaign, I couldn’t be more proud!” – Azim Akhtar (source)
While the clever play on the slogan was lauded by many, it also drew strong criticism. In particular, the Black community expressed disappointment, accusing KFC of endorsing a marketing strategy that perpetuated racial stereotypes.
One critic pointed out the importance of understanding art history and previous ad campaigns to avoid such pitfalls. They believed that the print ad, unlike the video, came across as an exaggerated portrayal of Black people.
Another critic accused KFC of reviving minstrel tropes and racial stereotypes associated with fried chicken. They argued that such a representation was inappropriate and insensitive.
In response to the criticism, Akhtar shared the full video advertisement. This video showcased a diverse cast of individuals of different races, ages, and backgrounds, all enjoying their fried chicken, underlining the idea that KFC’s food is indeed “finger lickin’ good”.
“My earlier post didn’t capture the full diversity of our latest campaign, and I personally apologize for not being more thoughtful in my excitement to share the campaign and only sharing certain photos. Here is the 60-second spot that is more representative of Canada’s diversity and our creative,” wrote Akhtar (source).
However, his explanation did not quell the unrest. Critics argued that, as the director of marketing, Akhtar should have been more sensitive towards racial issues. Some suggested that KFC and Akhtar should learn from this incident and be more conscientious in the future.
While KFC’s new campaign aimed to reinforce its long-standing slogan, it inadvertently stoked the fires of controversy. The backlash highlights the importance of cultural sensitivity and social justice in today’s marketing landscape.
Despite the criticism, KFC remains a popular brand, and it will be interesting to see how this incident affects their future marketing strategies. Will they take this as a learning experience and ensure their future campaigns are sensitive to racial and cultural differences? Only time will tell.