KFC suspends ‘finger lickin’ slogan in response to coronavirus pandemic


KFC is temporarily dropping the ‘It’s finger lickin’ good’ slogan it has used in its advertising for 64 years and launching its first global campaign in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The campaign launching today shows various images of KFC– including an outdoor ad and a number of shots of its infamous bucket of chicken – with the ‘finger lickin’’ part of its slogan pixelated out. It ends with the line: “That thing we always say? Ignore it. For now.”

The campaign will run across TV, press, social media and digital. Outdoor ads will feature KFC buckets with disclaimers, saying things like: “Lick fingers at own risk.”

KFC outdoor sign

KFC UK and Ireland’s head of retail and advertising, Kate Hall, said: “We’ve been using that slogan for over 64 years and it’s arguably one of the most famous in the world – for a reason, we know our guests always lick the crumbs off their fingers because the chicken is so delicious.

“This year has thrown everyone – all brands – and we took a bit of a global stance that actually right now our slogan is probably the most inappropriate slogan out there, so we need to stop saying it.”

The decision to both drop the slogan and run a global campaign was prompted by the insight that encouraging finger licking was “inappriopriate” in the middle of a pandemic.

KFC and its owner Yum! Brands usually allows markets to run their own marketing to ensure advertising is relevant and based on local insights. However, KFC found it was getting the same insights from all its markets, prompting its first global campaign.

Hall says: “For the first time ever across all markets we’ve got the same insight because of the global pandemic and we saw that as an opportunity to make some global work.”

As is becoming the norm with KFC’s marketing, the brand has tackled the issue head on. Rather than simply dropping the slogan and hoping no one notices, it has made the decision the focus point of the campaign.

“KFC around the globe is really bold when it comes to marketing,” says Mother’s executive creative director Hermeti Balarin. “We zeroed in on the tagline as the thing we could have most fun with, be most distinctive, and create the biggest buzz and be super relevant around the world – but at the same time put a little smile on people’s faces.”

The second phase of the campaign will see KFC hunt for a temporary replacement for its slogan. The brand does not know how long it will need to drop finger lickin’ for, but is hoping to drive engagement by introducing a replacement using influencers.

“Watch this space,” says Hall.