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Responsible Marketing

Responsible or not? PETA’s campaign against KFC

By February 22, 2008June 17th, 202110 Comments


It really doesn’t matter how you feel about PETA, you have to admire their marketing chutzpah.

Here’s a summary of their campaign:

Clearly, this was meant to agitate and it worked for me – I hopped right over to the Kentucky Fried Cruelty website to see what they had to say.

The site leverages KFC’s branding and presents Colonel Sanders with a devil’s horns (seriously, I saw this after the Responsible Marketing blog logo was created) and includes sharable videos and other interactive viral marketing tools. You can even make your own KFC sign image like the one posted above.

Do a quick search and you’ll find plenty of buzz, very little of it supporting KFC. Go to and you’ll find info about the Colonel’s Scholars, about global diversity, a supplier code of conduct…even KFC’s animal welfare guidelines. But you won’t find a response.

I don’t know how you feel about PETA’s tactics. Much of what they have done in the past belongs in the Responsible Marketing Hall of Shame. But from a marketing standpoint, PETA is doing a lot of things right. They’ve built grassroots support by leveraging media and technology to help drive successful word-of-mouth. And it’s working.

So what do you think?

Has PETA crossed the line, or is KFC getting what they deserve?

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Join the discussion 10 Comments

  • Nancy Marshall says:

    I agree with you on PETA’s tactics often being shameful, but this seems spot on. The list of standards PETA wants KFC to adopt regarding chicken care certainly seem reasonable. I think this is one of PETA’s more reasonable ads. It’s attention getting without being too shocking. Honestly, you can turn on the TV during prime time and see worse things than a guy in a chicken suit being kicked around.

  • Bill Boyd says:

    Colonel Harland Sanders got off to a tough start. His father died when he was 6. He had to drop out of junior high school in order to help support his family. He began developing his Kentucky Fried Chicken recipe at his gas station in Corbin, Kentucky, in 1930 because he wanted to (gasp!) pay the mortgage and feed his three children.

    The problem I have with PETA’s advertising — both the TV ad and the KFC Cruelty web site — is this: The Colonel is no longer here to defend himself. Yes, he agreed to be the iconic face of KFC, but he sold his interest in the company in 1964. How does PETA know how he’d feel today about how YUM! Brands — KFC’s current corporate parent — sources its chicken? PETA is using YouTube to deliberately besmirch the memory of someone who did the best he could — and who can rightly be admired for building a hugely successful company with only a seventh-grade education.

    The person in the car should be the Chairman and CEO of YUM! — not Colonel Sanders. PETA owes his grandchildren an apology.

  • Kevin says:

    If rules are being violated by KFC, then they need to be called on it.
    If this is just to save chickens, it’s silly.

    I guess the same can be said about dog and cat farms overseas.
    I’m sure someone in India has taken up the cause for cows here (sacred in their religion).

    Some causes take it a bit too far. To go against the character of a man who has now been long deceased is not right. Chicken is a delicacy here, and there are rules to how you handle them, slaughter them, etc. If KFC is doing anything wrong, let’s get to the bottom of it.

    If you wanna just “set some chickens free”, you’re crazy! lol.


  • I would just like to say “Boycott KFC.”

  • sac says:

    I am 50/50 with PETA. They are the largest animal rights organization in the world!! Chickens are no different than a dog or cat, if given the chance. Yes, chicken is a delicacy in this country and elsewhere but if they must be killed, can’t we at least do it HUMANELY???!!!! Why do “we” have to make them suffer? They can and do feel pain. If these were dogs or cats, there would be a public outcry. Chickens are no different, if given the chance, they can give love too. Go vegetarian. It’s the best choice for everything – animals, the environment and your health.

  • Aboo says:

    As someone who was raised on a farm and raised and cared for chickens for their eggs and their meat… We had them for years and not a single one ever, ever showed me anything but a beak to the face.

    I spent HOURS cleaning their house, feeding them, watering them, tending them when they were sick, setting up heaters or fans depending on the weather, gathering eggs, etc…

    They are NOT like cats and dogs. I haven’t been to the website you all are commenting on, I’m just commenting on the ignorance shown here.

    Chickens are not pets. They eat, they poop and they breed. and if you get to close to them while they’re doing any of that, they’ll either run away or peck the be-jeepers out of you. That is chicken life.

  • H Wright says:

    KFC is a company, not Harland Sanders. If Harland was around to day, he would be peeved by the cruelty being associated with his name. Peta deserves accolades for pointing it out. The company’s executives need to be fined and maybe even tossed in jail. There is no excuse.

  • I do agree with some of there tactics but some times they too can go over board like in the case a couple of months again when they were up in arms about Obarma swatting a fly. Come on there has to be a limit on certain things

  • Net Age says:

    KFC will not reply, because they know that they can not dispute the facts. So they just choose to ignore the fringe lunatics and continue pumping their big fat ad budgets. I do not eat KFC because of the fact that their products are unethically produced. PETA deserves a gold medal for their ongoing efforts to expose animal cruelty.

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