Update, August 25, 2020: In case any KFC devotees (or marketing teams) held out hope that somewhere out there, the phrase “finger lickin’ good” would remain unsullied by the global pandemic, we regret to inform you that, nope, it’s not a good look anywhere on the planet. KFC has announced via a press release that its famous slogan, in use for the past 64 years, is being officially suspended worldwide until it feels like the right moment to bring it back around.
“We find ourselves in a unique situation—having an iconic slogan that doesn’t quite fit in the current environment. 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,” global chief marketing officer Catherine Tan-Gillespie said in the press release. As long as KFC doesn’t try to bill itself as “Kitchen Fresh Chicken” again, pretty much any other branding decision is fine by us.
Original post, March 12, 2020: First it came for our reusable coffee cups. Then, it came for Tom and Rita. Now, coronavirus is coming for our folksy-if-disgusting fast food slogans. According to The Drum, KFC has suspended its “Finger Lickin’ Good” campaign in the U.K., as we’re in the midst of a global pandemic and no one should be licking anything, ever, at all.
Apparently KFC just launched a new “Finger Lickin’ Good” campaign in the U.K. just two weeks ago—extremely unfortunate timing, all things considered. One commercial in the campaign features chicken-eaters sensually licking their digits to a Chopin nocturne.
In the time of COVID-19, the ad really does feel like KFC instructing its customers to do everything they can to contract the contagion. Apparently some 160+ Britons have complained to the Advertising Standards Authority about the campaign (narcs), leading KFC to suspend the campaign for the time being. “It doesn’t feel like the right time to be airing this campaign,” said a KFC spokesperson who deserves a Nobel Prize in self-awareness.
I’ve never interpreted the Colonel’s slogan as instructions, per se. I think of it more like, “Our chicken is so good that you’ll want to lick your fingers after eating it,” right? But given the number of times I’ve read and heard and spoken the words “WASH YOUR HANDS!” over the past month, watching a supercut of satisfied Brits tongue their paws feels particularly troubling. But maybe it should be troubling to watch that...at all times? Once we’re through coronavirus, are we just going to go back to licking our fingers at fast food chicken joints willy-nilly, or will we have actually learned something? Guess we’ll just have to see.