KFC Uses Women’s Buns as Ad Space

Advertising is often contentious. Food advertising is perhaps doubly so. Add to that accusations of objectification and commodification of women’s bodies, and you’ve got yourself a marketing ethics case-study.

Here’s the story, by Bruce Horowitz, for USA Today: KFC pays college women for ad space on buns

KFC wants folks to watch its backside.

Or, more precisely, the backsides of female college students it’s recruiting to promote its hot new bunless Double Down sandwiches.

Women on college campuses are being paid $500 each to hand out coupons while wearing fitted sweatpants with “Double Down” in large letters across their rear ends.

The nation’s largest women’s group doesn’t like it one bit. “It’s so obnoxious to once again be using women’s bodies to sell fundamentally unhealthy products,” says Terry O’Neill, president of the National Organization for Women….

As I noted above, there are several different things that might be objected to, in regards to KFC’s latest marketing scheme. Then again, there’s nothing really unique here…and as far as marketing schemes that make use of women’s bodies, this one is pretty tame. Of course, that might just be the problem: using women’s bodies this way has come to be expected, and has even become kind of passé (which is not to say it’s not effective).

But in terms of food ethics, I’m intrigued by the second part of Terry O’Neill’s complaint: namely that this controversial marketing technique is being used to sell unhealthy food. Does that really make a difference, here? Certainly, if there are 2 different kinds of ethical complaints, that’s worth knowing. But O’Neill seems to be implying that there’s more than just a doubling of wrongs, here. She seems to imply that using women’s bodies to sell junk food (mostly to men) is somehow especially wrong.

What do you think?

About Chris MacDonald

I'm a philosopher who teaches at Ryerson University's Ted Rogers School of Management in Toronto, Canada. Most of my scholarly research is on business ethics and healthcare ethics.
This entry was posted in advertising, ethics, fast food, health, junk food, marketing. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to KFC Uses Women’s Buns as Ad Space

  1. Susan says:

    $500???? WTH??? I think it’s hilarious! I would do it in a heartbeat….

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