A KFC ad campaign, which used the phrase “what the cluck?” to promote a £1.99 lunch deal, has been banned following complaints from parents.
Parents voiced their concerns over the poster campaign, which many believed would make children think of the term “what the f***?”.
The phrase appeared on posters and in newspapers where it sat alongside an elongated “cluuuuck” to promote the £1.99 meal.
The fast food chain claimed that “what the cluck?” was merely what customers would say to “a great value KFC deal”.
But that was rejected by advertising watchdog the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) who banned the ad from being used again.
They also requested KFC avoid alluding to expletives that were likely to offend in the future.
An ASA spokesperson said: “KFC said they did not agree that the claim included a word which was a substitute for an expletive.
“They said the word “cluck” was used as an onomatopoeic reference to the noise of a chicken, which was in context and wholly relevant to the deal, the product featured and the brand.”
KFC also claimed that the extended "cluuuuck" would prevent readers from making the connection to the swear word and that it was unlikely to be seen by children because it didn't appear on posters within 200 metres of schools.
But the ad has now been removed after the regulator decided it broke rules on responsible advertising and causing harm or offence.
“The written word 'cluck' was used in the poster and press ads and we considered people would interpret that as alluding specifically to the expression, 'what the f***’,” an ASA spokesperson explained.
“We did not consider that this connection would be removed because an elongated spelling of the word 'cluck' was used in the ad.
“We considered that ‘f***’ was a word so likely to offend that it should not generally be used or alluded to in advertising, regardless of whether the ad was featured in a newspaper which had an adult target audience.
“We also considered it likely that parents may want their children to avoid the word, or obvious allusions to it.
“The poster was likely to be seen by people of all ages and while we recognised that the press ads would have a primarily adult audience, they could still be seen by children.
“For those reasons we concluded that the allusion to the word 'f***' in ads with a general adult audience was likely to cause serious and widespread offence, and that it was irresponsible for them to appear where children could see them.”
Yahoo UK has contacted KFC for comment but JC Deceax, which owned the poster space, apologised for the “oversight” and said in future any suggestions at swear words should approved.
The ad isn’t the only campaign the ASA has outlawed recently. Earlier this year fashion brand, Boohoo was ruled to have breached the advertising code by sending an email advert headed “send nudes”.
The fashion brand put the phrase in a message sent to promote a range of clothes coloured to resemble skin.
In a separate ruling, the ASA banned a video advert for clothing company Missguided, broadcast back in June during Love Island, which it claims "objectified women".
The ad promoted the retailer’s swimwear line and included models in bikinis and other swimwear.
But the ASA received a complaint that the ad “overly sexualised and objectified women”, so decided to investigate.
Additional reporting SWNS.