Cluck off. Now ASA tells KFC swearing isn’t funny or clever

Mother, which won global praise for its FCK ad, is now in trouble for a different ad that also makes a pun on the same swear word.

An ad for fast food brand KFC bearing the line “What the Cluck?” appeared at bus stops and other locations in September, and although none was placed within 200 yards of a primary school, it was presumably parents who were offended on behalf of their little ones.

The ad received 40 complaints, which is a lot for the ASA. You can only imagine that the class reps at a primary school near one of the sites must have got together to persuade fellow parents to contact the ASA: the WhatsApp group messages must have been in overdrive that week.

KFC’s excuse is pretty lame though. They say that the word “cluck” is all about the noise a chicken makes and nothing about it can be interpreted as an expletive or possibly encourage children to make a connection between the world “cluck” and “f*ck.”

The ASA upheld the complaints based on the codes around responsible advertising, and ruled that “f*ck was a word so likely to offend that it should not generally be used or alluded to in advertising,” regardless of where it appears.

Lucky no one told that to the print jury at Cannes, who gave Mother’s FCK ad — made as a witty apology for chicken shortages — a Gold Lion last year.

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About Emma Hall

Emma Hall
Emma Hall is the former London Editor of Ad Age, where she covered European marketing advertising, digital and media stories. She has written for newspapers including the Financial Times, The Guardian, The Times and the Telegraph, and was previously a section editor at Campaign. Emma started her career in New York as a researcher for a biography of Keith Richards.

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