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Finger Lickin' Good? KFC Ad Lawsuit Over Anti-Crispy Ad Bias

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By Minara El-Rahman on January 11, 2010 1:30 PM

Kentucky Fried Chicken (also known as KFC) is now part of a lawsuit that claims that recent KFC ad campaigns featuring grilled chicken are biased against the chain's extra crispy selection of chicken. BusinessWeek reports that the lawsuit centers around ad bias. The plaintiff, the KFC National Council and Advertising Cooperative, Inc. claims that the President of KFC (Mr. Roger Eaton) is favoring grilled chicken over its staple fried chicken. The lawsuit was filed in Delaware Chancery Court.

The KFC National Council and Advertising Cooperative, Inc. is a private advertising agency that crafts the fast food chain's marketing program. It is a separate entity from Yum! Brands Inc., of which Kentucky Fried Chicken is a unit. The advertising cooperative is made up of franchise and company members. The lawsuit centers around which entity gets to decide on the chain's advertising policy. The franchise members of the plaintiff entity claim that since the recession hit, sales are down and that the company should focus on ads that feature the original recipe fried chicken versus the newer grilled chicken.

BusinessWeek quotes the complaint as stating, "Eaton appears to believe that the future of KFC lies with grilled chicken rather than fried" and recent proposals to the council "have been heavily, if not exclusively, lopsided towards grilled chicken." The advertising council is asking the judge to rule that they have "ultimate authority" in deciding on KFC ads.

While this lawsuit seems odd enough, what is even weirder is how the Council failed to recognize an even bigger misstep with KFC's Australia ad featuring what some see as racist undertones. USA Today reports that the KFC ad featured a white man in a cricket match passing around some fried chicken in a crowd of West Indian fans. Luckily, after the ad hit the internet via YouTube and American consumers saw it, Kentucky Fried Chicken in Australia removed the ad from the airwaves.

KFC also caught some heat over inability to meet the demand created by coupons for its grilled offerings distributed en masse by Oprah. Will this be the last we hear about KFC's ads? I think not.

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