Viewers found the ad irresponsible because it appeared to encourage face-touching which is a strict no-no in the fight to stop the virus' spread.
In February, KFC released an ad for its UK and Ireland audience. In the ad, diners are seen relishing a chicken at KFC outlets while a reworked version of Chopin’s Nocturne op. 9 No.2 plays in the background. For many, it was food ASMR. And as the cherry on the cake, we see those diners lick their fingers clean reinforcing the iconic catchphrase, 'Finger Lickin' Good'.
The ad gained several views and coverage in the press for its evocative shots of people licking their finger clean. We at afaqs! covered it too. But, in what could be the worst timing possible, the US fast-food major pulled the ad because of coronavirus.
Coronavirus or COVID – 19 has become a pandemic. As per a report in the BBC, there are 1,372 confirmed cases in the UK. The World Health Organization and other public institutions have repeatedly stressed on precautionary measures such as washing hands with hot water and soap or an alcohol-based sanitiser and to not touch your nose, eyes, or mouth with unclean hands.
These safety measures are the reason why KFC had to pull its ad. According to The Drum, 163 people complained to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) in the UK about the irresponsible timing of the ad and how it encourages face touching which can help spread the COVID – 19 virus.
But, before the ASA could contact KFC, the fast-food chain had suspended the ad campaign. A spokesperson informed The Independent, “It doesn’t feel like the right time to be airing this campaign, so we’ve decided to pause it for now – but we’re really proud of it and look forward to bringing it back at a later date.”
The ad was created by London based creative agency Mother.
While KFC faced flak for its ad when it didn't intend to promote face touching, back home in India, brands are doing their best to spread awareness about the virus on social media. Several brands came out with creatives highlighting the safety measures you must take stay safe and prevent the rapid spread of the virus.
The virus has put a halt on the day to day workings of the media and entertainment industries. Several independent bodies from the space in India decided to halt shooting from March 19 till March 31, 2020, as a safety precaution.
Even sporting leagues have been postponed or suspended. The Indian Premier League has been postponed to April 15 from its original date of March 29 2020.
It remains to be seen how long will the virus affect the day to day workings of advertising, media, and entertainment industries before things go back to normal.