KFC Australia apologizes after facing backlash over 'sexist' commercial

Kentucky Fried Chicken’s Australia branch is in hot water after an ad for one of its products was deemed “sexist.”

The commercial, which is aimed at advertising KFC Australia’s Zinger Popcorn Box, begins with a young woman wearing a festival outfit staring at her reflection in a car window, with her cleavage clearly visible. Suddenly, the window rolls down to reveal two young boys wearing soccer uniforms and their mother in the driver’s seat. As the young woman stares awkwardly at the family, the two young boys stare conspicuously at her breasts. After a short pause, the young woman says, “Did somebody say ‘KFC?’” The ad cuts to the young woman eating a chicken sandwich with her smiling friends.

The ad, which was uploaded to YouTube at the end of December and has been featured on Australian television, has been viewed over a half million times and has caused quite a stir. The Australia-based Collective Shout, which describes itself on its website as a grassroots organization against the objectification of women and the sexualization of girls, has criticized the commercial, claiming it reinforces dangerous tropes.

“Ads like this reinforce the false idea that we can't expect better from boys,” spokeswoman Melinda Liszewski said in a statement on the organization’s website. “It is another manifestation of the 'boys will be boys' trope, hampering our ability to challenge sexist ideas which contribute to harmful behavior towards women and girls.”

Following the backlash, KFC Australia released a short statement on Tuesday, apologizing for the commercial. “We apologize if anyone was offended by our latest commercial. Our intention was not to stereotype women and young boys in a negative light,” the statement read.

In an email to Yahoo Lifestyle, Collective Shout’s Liszewski called KFC Australia’s statement a non-apology.

“There was no responsibility taken for the content of the ad,” she tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “No mention of pulling the ad from air, and they have ignored follow up questions about what their intentions are. This is a cowardly response. It is clear that KFC is hoping this will blow over — it will not. We encourage people to vote with their dollar and boycott KFC.”

It is not clear if the fast food giant will remove the 15-second ad from its YouTube channel. As of Wednesday, it was still live.

Yahoo reached out to KFC Australia for comment and has not yet heard back.

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