KFC's chicken may be finger lickin' good, but since licking your fingers might not be the best idea during a global pandemic, the company has decided to temporarily suspend using its famous tagline. On Monday, KFC, which is owned by Yum! Brands, announced that it is "pressing pause" on its "finger lickin' good" tagline since it "doesn't feel quite right" at this point in time.
In a 30-second ad campaign released on KFC's YouTube channel that is running in several KFC markets globally (the U.K., the Netherlands, South Africa, Canada, parts of Asia, the Middle East and North Africa) we see billboards and buckets of chicken with the words "finger lickin'" blurred out. (A representative for KFC told TODAY Food that the "finger lickin' good" slogan was already taken out of U.S. advertising back in March.)
"That thing we always say? Ignore it. For now," flashes across the screen.
While abandoning the 64-year-old slogan is, of course, a marketing stunt on the part of the fried chicken giant, the advice behind it is sage. KFC joked in a statement that they were the "winner of the award for most inappropriate ad slogan for 2020" before getting down to business.
"We find ourselves in a unique situation — having an iconic slogan that doesn't quite fit in the current environment," said Catherine Tan-Gillespie, global chief marketing officer at KFC in the statement. "While we are pausing the use of 'It's Finger Lickin' Good,' rest assured the food craved by so many people around the world isn't changing one bit."
At the beginning of the pandemic, KFC was widely criticized for a new ad featuring dozens of people licking their fingers in KFC restaurants (and even licking each other's fingers!) that aired in the U.K. and online.
The backlash over the campaign was swift, with people calling the ad irresponsible and saying it encouraged behavior that could potentially increase the spread of COVID-19.
The CDC recommends that people avoid touching their eyes, nose and mouth to stop the spread of germs, which would certainly take finger-licking off the table.
While KFC is known for using irreverent humor in its ads, they did chose to stop running the ad as the world dealt with a global pandemic that caused the shutdown of schools, offices and restaurants across the world.
The company isn't all about jokes, though. KFC has been active in supporting front-line workers during the pandemic.
"The frontline heroes at the local hospital in Lanham, Maryland, recently received fifty meals from our Greenbelt Road KFC team! Thank you for all that you do! Learn more about our community and safety efforts at kfc.com/coronavirus," the company posted on Instagram back in May.
"From the moment the pandemic began, ensuring our restaurants were able to operate responsibly has been our number one priority," a representative for KFC told TODAY. "We have taken decisions on a case by case basis. The same goes for the decision to pause the use of It’s Finger Lickin’ Good. We know it won’t be forever, but it’s the right thing to do right now. We'll be bringing it back when the time is right."