KFC ad banned for 'misleading' pricing

An ad for Kentucky Fried Chicken has been banned after a member of the public complained she was unable to buy the KFC Family Burger Box at the price stated in the commercial.

In the ad, created by Bartle Bogle Hegarty, the voice-over stated: "The new KFC Family Burger Box – a choice of four fillet or zinger burgers, large popcorn chicken and fries. Feed the family and save a fiver – just £14.99".

On-screen text stated: "Item shown £20.51 if bought individually. Prices may vary."

The complainant challenged whether the ad was misleading because she had not been able to purchase the product for the stated price.

Kentucky Fried Chicken responded by stating that that the on-screen text – "prices may vary" – referred to both the a la carte menu pricing of individual items, the price of the Family Burger Box and the exact saving between those two prices.

Usually, It said, when KFC quoted a price, the on-screen text stated "price may vary", but as there was more than one price mentioned, the ad referred to "prices" to be clear that this referred to all quoted amounts.

The restaurant chain felt the on-screen text made clear that the prices quoted in the ad could vary depending on the store visited.

Kentucky Fried Chicken explained that prices varied between stores, as they were legally unable to fix the pricing within all of its franchisee stores and could only recommend pricing.

It said the number of restaurants that sold the Family Burger Box product at a higher price was a substantial minority within the Kentucky Fried Chicken UK store estate – approximately 15 stores out of 850 stores nationally.

It kept a record of the price range on the Family Burger Box within its system of between £14.99 and £16.99, and said the adjusted individual menu prices meant that the saving was always over £5, as per the claim in the ad.

The broadcast clearance body Clearcast said it fully endorsed Kentucky Fried Chicken’s response. It was aware of Kentucky Fried Chicken’s pricing system and requested that any of its ads that featured prices included the text "price may vary".

Clearcast pointed out that this guidance had been in place for over six years, without a complaint from a viewer.

The ASA said it was satisfied that most Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurants sold the Family Burger Box at the price quoted in the ad, and that the saving in all stores was over £5.

The watchdog acknowledged Clearcast and Kentucky Fried Chicken’s point that they had used the plural in the on-screen text – "prices may vary" – to indicate that this referred to all prices quoted in the ad.

However, it noted that the ad did not explicitly state whether "prices may vary" referred to the items totalling £20.51, the Family Burger Box price of £14.99, or both.

It also noted that the text stating "item shown £20.51 if bought individually" and "prices may vary" appeared on-screen at the same time, and that the ASA considered that this could lead viewers to believe that "prices may vary" referred only to the items totalling £20.51.

It concluded that it was not sufficiently clear that "prices may vary" referred to all prices quoted in the ad and ruled that the ad must not appear again in its current form.

The ASA has instructed Kentucky Fried Chicken to ensure that in future it makes clear when its prices vary.

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