The ad watchdog has cleared KFC of any wrongdoing after it landed itself in hot water last month over what many argued was a “sexist” ad.
The 15-second ad, which featured heavily during the Big Bash League, depicts a young woman checking her appearance in the reflection of a parked car window. As she leans forward to adjust her top, the window rolls down to reveal a very unhappy-looking mother and her two young boys, who are staring open-mouthed at the woman’s cleavage.
Despite claims that the ad was “sexually objectifying” women for male pleasure, Ad Standards ruled that while it did contain “mild sexual themes”, most members of the community would not consider it offensive or inappropriate.
“The Panel considered that the advertisement did treat sex, sexuality and nudity with sensitivity to the relevant broad audience and did not breach section 2.4 of the Code,” the watchdog said.
“Finding that the advertisement did not breach the Code on the other grounds, the Panel dismissed the complaints,” it added, explaining that its decision was based on three sections of the code — section 2.1 which covers discrimination and vilification, 2.2 addressing exploitation and degradation, and 2.4 targeting sex, sexualisation and nudity.”
Last month, Collective Shout, a grassroots organisation against the objectification of women, strongly condemned the ad, claiming that it not only objectifies women, but reinforces “the false idea that we can’t expect better from boys”.
“It is another manifestation of the ‘boys will be boys’ trope, hampering our ability to challenge sexist ideas which contribute to harmful behaviour towards women and girls,” said Collective Shout spokeswoman Melinda Liszewski.
However, Ad Standards did not agree, but instead said that “although the woman’s cleavage was visible, it was not the focus of the advertisement and the woman was dressed and covered appropriately” and referred to the boys’ reaction as “natural”.
KFC in the firing line
The industry watchdog recently upheld a complaint about another KFC advertisement which was found to have misled viewers into thinking the chain’s $4.95 Fill Up deal was available at night.
The complainants wrote that a woman in a “vulnerable” state due to alcohol consumption could be “forced” into buying an equivalent product at a higher price.
The advertiser responded by explaining that “KFC strive[s] to depict relatable situations that encourage people to release their free inner spirit and be their true selves”.
Maja Garaca Djurdjevic is the editor of My Business.
Maja has an extensive career as a journalist across finance, business and market intelligence. Prior to joining Momentum Media, Maja spent several years unravelling social, political and economic intricacies in Eastern Europe.