Ad Nut
Jan 21, 2020

KFC ad takes heat for 'sexist grooming' of boys

The criticism is deserved, and the brand may have made things worse with a classic 'non-apology apology'.

The above KFC ad from Australia has come in for criticism—rightly so, in Ad Nut's opinion—from Collective Shout, an organisation that fights objectification of women. The ad, Collective Shout said, reinforces gender stereotypes and contributes to "sexist grooming of boys”.

In a statement, Collective Shout spokeswoman Melinda Liszewski said the ad was a "regression to tired and archaic stereotypes where young women are sexually objectified for male pleasure" and where boys are "helplessly transfixed when confronted with the opportunity to ogle a woman's body".

Ad Nut can already hear the "lighten up" and "face reality" objections. And indeed, Ad Nut is no puritan. So Ad Nut wouldn't argue that sexual attraction isn't real, or that it can't ever be amusing or play a role in advertising. But the problems here are that we're talking about pre-teens, and that there's no indication whatsoever in the ad that what they're doing is wrong.

Just look at this still:

And then try to take in what Liszewski is arguing:

Ads like this reinforce the false idea that we can't expect better from boys.

Yes, that's the crux of it. While it's true that hetero teens and men are going to be attracted to curvy women, that's not the issue here. The issue here is a brand choosing to condone the idea that's it's natural and OK to leer, if not drool. As Liszewski points out, research shows that attitudes shape behaviour, and therefore this kind of advertising contributes to "a lesser view of women, resulting in their mistreatment".

Thus far, KFC has only issued a classic non-apology apology.

“We apologise if anyone was offended by our latest commercial,” a spokesperson told Yahoo Lifestyle. “Our intention was not to stereotype women and young boys in a negative light.”

C'mon, KFC: "I'm sorry you feel that way" is not going to be good enough in this case.

Ad Nut is a surprisingly literate woodland creature that for unknown reasons has an unhealthy obsession with advertising. Ad Nut gathers ads from all over Asia and the world for your viewing pleasure, because Ad Nut loves you. You can also check out Ad Nut's Advertising Hall of Fame, or read about Ad Nut's strange obsession with 'murderous beasts'.

 

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