I recently came across this new US commercial for KFC which informs us that 'Dipping is Fun', I'll have to take their word on this. As someone who has nearly 10 years of experience working in advertising I am left almost dumbfounded by some of the content of this advert.
Now I must start by saying this isn't a personal attack against KFC or fast food outlets in general, I'm just trying to be objective about what they are telling us about the product. I'm also aware that commercial advertising strategy differs greatly from country to country, particularly between the UK and the US. We may share a common language but the comparisons usually end there. American advertising is more confrontational, to the point and with a simple clear message. Whereas the UK style traditionally relies more on a subtle approach, they want to convince us to buy their product. These different approaches are due to a number of historical, social, economic and physiological factors, far too many to bore you with here.
Back to the advert in question. We see a young family gathered around the kitchen table, it's dinnertime and the kids are hungry. The exasperated mother starts by telling us how difficult it is to get her children to sit down for dinner, a common problem for most families with small children. Her answer is simple "KFC", a solution that appears to appease not only the kids but also her husband. The family enjoys their bucket of chicken and dips, we're told it's "delicious", so far so good, the usual approach. This is where the message changes, the mother confesses how she can't get her children to usually eat "anything" , but behold! They are silently devouring their chicken, even confirming their happiness when pressed by mom. Next 5s of product detail before the mother once again highlights the fact that her son is sitting still. It ends with a burst of music, taglines and hashtags.
Now what have we learned here? That fried chicken is the saviour of family dinnertime? Hyperactivity can only be stemmed by rewarding your offspring with fast food? Fruit and vegetables should be replaced by sugary dips? And finally that a happy family is a silent one? The mind boggles.
It shocks me that a commercial such as this has been cleared to air. Obesity rates in America continue to rise annually, with almost one in every three children now considered to be overweight*. The implications of all this is well-known and I don't need to discuss it here.
Companies/advertisers should adhere to promoting a clear and honest message when it comes to their products, they owe this to their consumer. If these firms are not held accountable where does the blame lie? Honesty and integrity should be the core values of any business, the responsibility cannot always rest with the consumer.