The morality of advertising KFC’s Double Down

13 Jun

KFC Double Down, two slices of processed cheese, two slices of bacon, sandwiched between deep-fried chicken breastsLast November I predicted that sloppy, salty mess that is KFC’s Double Down sandwich would only be off the Canadian markets temporarily while the corporation regrouped.

For those who don’t typically read the Obits section in the TC, the Double Down is two slabs of processed cheese and two slices of bacon, encased in two deep-fried chicken breasts masquerading as buns.

Heralding a lower sodium version, KFC re-launched its flagship heart-attack this week complete with an extensive TV media-buy.

I spied a number of tweets from courageous (I’d use another word but they’re my pals!) Victorian’s who headed back to the Colonel’s lair to sample the new product.

Tweet from handsome_fee about KFC's Double Down

Tweet from handsome_fee after eating a KFC Double Down

The moral question for any ad agency is “Do you take the money and run the ads?” Does this product just step over the line and would promoting it be irresponsible?

I want to say, for the record, that I would recommend to the Copeland team that we not advertise this kind of product.

Not unless it was a promo for McCalls.


10 Responses to “The morality of advertising KFC’s Double Down”

  1. Shane June 13, 2011 at 8:39 am #

    Advertisers shouldn’t be responsible for what people decide to put in their own bodies, so long as the ads are honest.

  2. Doug Brown June 13, 2011 at 8:44 am #

    I know some cannibals that are looking for representation Shane! I’ll pass your name along… 😉

  3. Sandy Ibrahim June 13, 2011 at 9:19 am #

    Is it a moral issue? Or an issue of which clients you would like to best represent your work. Or doing work that you feel proud of and inspired by?

  4. Doug Brown June 13, 2011 at 9:23 am #

    Good questions Sandy. I think if you’re promoting something that you know is unhealthy – cigarettes also come to my mind – it becomes a moral issue. You can do some stellar ideas for a bad product! But, like the Double Down, they will no doubt leave a bad taste in your mouth.

  5. Dan June 13, 2011 at 10:08 am #

    First and foremost, I have not seen the new advertisments, so I am writing not in response to the content of the ad, but rather to the question of whether or not I would advertise the Double Down. Also, I have no desire to try the Double Down, and I think the product is a disgusting reflection of North American excess.

    But I would take the money. And here is why:

    1.) If you live a healthy lifestyle, having the occasional Double Down probably won’t result in a double bipass, just as having the occasional beer will not result in a beer gut. Of course, most North Americans don’t get nearly enough excercise or proper nutrition; but is that KFC’s fault?

    2.) The product is unhealthy, but so is all of the other fast food out there. Would you turn away Subway’s business? Believe it or not, the Double Down has LESS calories and sodium than a footlong ham sub (not including cheese and sauces) at Subway. The ham sub is advertised on Subway’s ‘6 grams of fat or less’ menu, and thus perceievd by many as ‘healthy.’

    I would not place the Double Down in the same category as cigarettes. Instead, I would think of it in the same way as I would alcohol. As long as it is enjoyed in moderation, and consumed as a part of an otherwise healthy lifestyle, it’s OK.


  6. Doug Brown June 13, 2011 at 10:36 am #

    Dan I like your arguments. All I would say to offer a different perspective is that an ad agency’s job is to drive usage. A caveat of “Well, don’t eat too many!” is way too damning of the product. Can you imagine the Health Warning label on the package? ” Enjoy in moderation.” Appetite killer.

    So you have to go full bore and sell the damn things. Back to square one: morality.

    Thanks for the great comment!

  7. Felix June 13, 2011 at 11:43 am #

    Seeing that it is a product that effectively has a self filter, I don’t feel it is a problem running the ad. If the the ad (never seen it since I dont’ watch TV, actually saw the in-house ad in the KFC at the mall) on TV is making it more cool, more sexy, more sophisticated than the product that it is – then I think that’s the point where it crosses the morality line.

  8. Doug Brown June 13, 2011 at 12:13 pm #

    Advertising always makes things more cool, sexy and sophisticated. Ciggies for example. Hard to imagine how even the most talented among us could make the DD any of those! haha. Thanks for the comment Felix…and the motivation for the post. Bon appetit!

  9. Dan June 13, 2011 at 12:48 pm #

    I love posts like these – very engaging. Keep ’em coming Doug!

  10. Doug Brown June 13, 2011 at 2:35 pm #

    Thanks for making the conversation tons better Dan.

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