Feathers fly over chicken ad

In the war of the chickens, Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) has won its advertising battle with Chicken Licken.

Following complaints by KFC, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has banned Chicken Licken from flighting an ad from mocking KFC.

Chicken Licken was also ordered to publish a summarised version of the ruling on television. The summarised version includes an apology for contravening the ASA's code of conduct.

Next week the ASA will be making a ruling against the eatery's ad that is a first of its kind for television and also "to date one of the most severe sanctions for an ad".

According to ASA, what will be decided at the ruling is whether the apology will be flighted as frequently as the original Chicken Licken ad.

This could cost R1,2-million and all the costs of such publication will be for Chicken Licken's account.

KFC complained after Chicken Licken's ad agency, Net#work BBDO, produced an ad which used a lookalike of KFC's famous "Colonel Saunders".

In the ad, a real-life version of the colonel walks into the Chicken Licken "Soulman's" surgery looking down and dreary.

After tasting some Chicken Licken he arises with an Afro hairstyle and uses the KFC pay-off line - "Finger Licken Good".

Reference is also made to the Colonel's secret recipe.

In complaining to the ASA, KFC submitted that the ad was "disparaging in the extreme as it shows the colonel to be listless and somewhat impotent until he eats Chicken Licken.

The advertisement uses the trademark KFC, brand iconography, signage and language without KFC's permission.

KFC's marketing director KFC Murray Willows said it all started with a contravention of ASA's code of conduct. Willows said that applying the sanction was not a claim for damage, but a process of ASA respecting their code of conduct.

"We had appealed to ASA to protect our brand, our icon. It is what our franchises pay for." He said the issue around the degree of severity was the ASA's decision.

So far, Willows said they have been satisfied with the outcome but was not willing to comment further until the final ruling.

But Chicken Licken said the ad was not disparaging in any way.

"The only intention was to amuse viewers who would perceive the advertisement as a witty parody."

"KFC does not use a real-life colonel but an animated character called the colonel and therefore the use of the character was not the same. The use of the character was to amuse the consumer. There could not have been any confusion," Chicken Licken representatives said at a hearing in September.

But at a hearing last week, Net#work financial director Peter Schumacher said that "a single flighting was all that was necessary to undo the harm."

He said "anything more would be over-kill". A summarised version of the ruling would be viewed by a large proportion of the viewers who may have seen the original commercial as well as others who had not.

"KFC has not provided any proof that the commercial damaged its brand or resulted in financial loss," said Schumacher.

"For the first time ever in this country there will be a flighting on prime time television of an ASA finding."

"This can hardly be expected to pass without comment in the media and must rank as among the most severe sanctions ever imposed on an advertiser by the ASA," said Schumacher.

Network BBDO was not available for further comment.

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