LONDON • Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) is temporarily suspending its long-time advertisement slogan “It’s finger lickin’ good”, calling it inappropriate in the current Covid-19 pandemic situation where personal hygiene has become a top priority to stem transmission of the disease.
In an era when face masks and hand washing have become the norm and health officials are recommending that people stop touching their faces, KFC said the slogan “doesn’t feel quite right”.
The slogan, used on and off by the Yum Brands-owned chain for 64 years, has been paused in advertising around the globe since Monday and will reappear when the time is right, the company said in a press release.
The restaurant chain unveiled a short video clip on its KFC UK and Ireland YouTube channel on Monday, showing various KFC chicken buckets with the “finger lickin'” words blurred out from its captions. The ad then ends with the tagline “That thing we always say? Ignore it. For now”.
The move comes after the chain pulled one of its advertisements in Britain that featured the catchphrase and showed people licking their own fingers as well as those of their companions after eating its chicken.
The ad, broadcast in March, was widely criticised on social media as promoting behaviour that could increase the risk of Covid-19 infection, and Britain’s Advertising Standards Authority received at least 150 complaints, according to marketing news site The Drum.
It is another example of a major company being forced to rethink brands and taglines, following social media backlash for being insensitive or out of touch with the times.
Consumer goods giant Unilever recently changed the name of its 40-year old Fair & Lovely skin cream brand, while soft-drink maker PepsiCo plans to change the name of its Aunt Jemima cake mixes after coming under social media pressure.
“We find ourselves in a unique situation – having an iconic slogan that doesn’t quite fit in the current environment,” KFC’s global chief marketing officer Catherine Tan-Gillespie said in a statement.