November 19, 2003

KFC for Your Health

Uh, did you folks at Foote, Cone & Belding rent Crazy People and then twist the results a bit?

Reuters (and everyone else, really) has the scoop.
    - Regulators at the U.S. Federal Trade Commission are examining the validity of health claims made in advertisements for KFC's fried chicken, advertisements that the chain plans to pull on Friday.

    An FTC spokesman confirmed on Wednesday that the agency has begun looking into a complaint by health advocacy group Center for Science in the Public Interest that calls the KFC ads deceptive and misleading.

    It is the latest blow to a fast-food chain trying to fix disappointing sales and marketing messages that have failed to strike a chord with consumers. KFC's sales have fallen in 13 of the last 16 months and the company's management was recently overhauled.

    The KFC television ads, which were touted in a press release last month titled "KFC sets the record straight," try to position fried chicken as a component of a balanced diet and as a healthier alternative to Burger King's Whopper sandwich.
"Healthier alternative?" SCOFF! Here's how you make fried chicken at KFC, ladies and gentlemen.

You have a big tub of flour with herbs and spices in it. You have a bunch of chicken. You double-bread the chicken using the "method" (which I'll not divulge), and then you "rack" the chicken on a round basket to go into the Collectramatic. The chicken is immersed in oil (mostly likely trans fatty acids; the shortening was in liquid format as recent as 1994 - the last I can attest) for 14 to 17 minutes, depending on the number of chix in da cooker. Then, the chicken comes "up," and you open the pressure fryer (slowly, please, gently releasing pressure), lift the chicken up with a special hook, and place the hook in a position for the chicken to drain. Drain for a few minutes - preferably more than one. Voila - fried chicken.

Veritable picture of health, no? But let's look at that...healthier. Living...healthier than dead. Emphysema? Probably healthier than cancer-ridden. Gangrene? Healthier to have it in one toe rather than three. Healthier.

    "Our ads simply set the record straight by providing consumers accurate information and facts about KFC's Original Recipe fried chicken and how it can be part of a balanced diet," said KFC spokeswoman Bonnie Warschauer. "However, we're not in a position to comment on FTC affairs."
Positioning KFC as a tradition or a picnic food - sure. "Balanced diet?" Come on, lady - look at the existing food pyramid. See that fats and oils section? says something like that, no? KFC is a treat. KFC for life...uh, no.

    One of the two ads at issue features a couple affirming their dedication to eating better--as the woman sets down a bucket of fried chicken. The ad notes that two pieces of its chicken breasts have less fat than a Whopper.

    The second ad focuses on chicken as a low-carbohydrate, high-protein food fit for dieters trying to cut down on carbs.

    Other fast-food chains, like McDonald's Corp., have had success by developing new, healthier options like salads.
Okay. I read this twice. Laughter ensued. "Dedication to EATING BETTER?" Huh? Were there mounds of Whopper wrappers rotting in the background? And two chicken breasts have less fat than a Whopper? So?

The low-carb option cracks me up, too. Is there some fun small print mentioning that the "double-breaded chicken" probably isn't the best low carb fare in restaurant America? I'll bet there are instructions to remove the skin and all of the KFCness that makes KFC, well, KFC.

And the last sentence is the kicker - the part that adds maniacal to the laughter. Salad...fried chicken.

Nice comparison. And, hmm, I actually agree with the CSPI. Hard not to on this one.


Posted by hln at November 19, 2003 09:40 PM | Nutrition | TrackBack