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Culinary Culture Clash: Chick-Fil-A in UK, KFC in Australia

A couple of interesting stories have caught my eye in the past few days about how Fast Food concepts that fly high with one demographic can flop dismally with others. I commend your attention to an ill-themed KFC commercial in Australia and an ill-starred Chick-Fil-A opening in Scotland…

“Did somebody say, ‘KFC ‘?”

Much ado about something naughty…

A new KFC ad that started airing recently in Australia  shows a tarty-looking teen primping in the side mirror of a parked car. She’s not explicitly identified as a hooker, but that’s the impression some viewers of the commercial may have received. It turns out that the car is occupied by a mom and her three kids, who include two goggle-eyed pre-teen boys.

The ad has sparked an uproar online, but those who condemn it as sexist are heavily outnumbered by those who say, ‘C’mon! Lighten up a little!’ At last look, the fans outnumbered the foes by more than 6 to one.

Australia’s Collective Shout (CS) movement called out KFC online, branding the ad, “a regression to tired and archaic stereotypes where young women are sexually objectified for male pleasure.” Collective Shoutout calls itself a “grassroots campaigns movement against the objectification of women and the sexualization of girls,” in media, advertising and pop culture.

KFC apologised on CS: “We apologize if anyone was offended by our latest commercial. Our intention was not to stereotype women and young boys in a negative light.” But at last inquiry, the chain had not pulled the ad off the air or from its Australian YouTube Channel.

Collective Shout maintains that the ad ‘remains dangerous’ as long as it’s on the air.

Chick-Fil-A flees Scotland amid LGBTQ+ uproar

Chick-Fil-A (CFA), the southern U.S. Fried Chicken chain that’s owned by a fundamentalist Christian family and closes on Sundays to honour the Lord’s Day, has been dipping its toe in the English and Scottish markets, with a pair of pilot restaurants, one in  the south and the other in the north. But CFA has hastily closed the one at a resort hotel complex in Aviemore, Scotland about 40 km / 25 miles as the crow flies from Queen Elizabeth’s Balmoral Estate.

It seems LGBTQ+ advocates in the highlands got up a 2,400-name petition protesting that CFA – which they say supports anti-LGBTQ+ rights groups – was planning to do business there. CFA countered with its corporate line that it has no political or social agenda. But that, apparently, didn’t impress LGBTQ+ spokespeople who reminded the world that CFA’s corporate chairman spoke put publicly against Gay marriage last year.

CFA said, in a statement announcing the closure of the Aviewmore location: “It has been our pleasure to serve guests at this pilot restaurant for the past several months, and we are grateful to Macdonald Hotels for allowing us the opportunity to learn from each and every customer. […] These insights will help us immensely as we look to having a permanent location in the UK in the future.” Which, if you read between the lines, means that there wont’ be any CFAs in Scotland anytime soon.

As far as we know, the CFA outlet in Reading, England is doing fine, albeit after a stormy start. LGBTQ+ activists there organized a boycott of that location when it first opened, over the same issues that prompted the closing of the Aviemore restaurant.

Alrighty, then…

I’ll admit that the racy Australian KFC ad wouldn’t fly here in North America. But then again, Australian culture diverges in many respects from ours. And the curious fact that Scottish LGBTQ+ advocates ran Chick-Fil-A out of town while English brothers and sisters haven’t sent them packing from Reading speaks volumes about the differences we can observe within what they call ‘The United Kingdom’.

Fast Food chains, tread lightly when sojourning in foreign markets!

~ Maggie J.