Legal development

Feeling the heat - KFCs cricket season advertisements

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    What you need to know

    • As a sponsor of the Big Bash League (BBL), KFC promoted its Buckethead campaign through Cricket Australia's social media channels and featured children with empty KFC chicken buckets.
    • The Ad Standards Community Panel (Panel) found that KFC's advertisements did not breach the Food & Beverages Advertising Code and did not target children, as they were equally appealing to older teenagers and adults.

    What you need to do

    Food and beverages producers need to:

    • consider whether their advertising and promotional materials are directed primarily at children;
    • be mindful of their obligations under AANA's Food & Beverages Advertising Code (Code); and
    • obtain legal sign off for such materials prior to publishing them to ensure compliance with Australian Consumer Law and other legal requirements.

    Complaints about KFC's Buckethead campaign

    As part of the Buckethead campaign, empty KFC buckets printed in BBL team colours with KFC and BBL's logos were handed out at the cricket ground for patrons to support their team.

    In response to consumer complaints, the Panel considered whether the use of empty buckets to promote the Buckethead campaign and Instagram posts featuring children with KFC buckets on Cricket Australia's Instagram accounts constituted breach of Sections 3.1 and 3.2 of the Code.

    Food & Beverages Advertising Code

    Sections 3.1 and 3.2 state that advertising (including sponsorship advertising) of occasional food products must not target children, and sponsorship advertising that targets children must not show an occasional food product or product packaging. "Children" is defined as persons under the age of 15 in the Code.

    When determining whether an advertisement "targets children", the Panel considers the following three criteria:

    • is the nature and intended purpose of the product being promoted principally or significantly appealing to children;
    • is the presentation of the advertisement content principally appealing to children; and
    • does the expected average audience at the time or place the advertisement appears include a significant proportion of children (i.e. more than 25% of the predicted audience).

    The Panel's determinations

    For both cases, the Panel found that the empty buckets featured in the advertisements were similar to the product packaging for KFC's fried chicken, and therefore constituted advertising of occasional food products.

    Case 0006-22: Promotion using empty KFC buckets

    Product – The Panel accepted that KFC fried chicken is a product enjoyed by children, but found that it has equal or greater appeal to teenagers and adults and was therefore not a product with principal or significant appeal to children.

    Advertisement content – In determining whether the advertisement (i.e. the bucket) was principally appealing to children, the Panel considered how all the elements of the advertisement interacted with each other and the overall impression made. The Panel took into account the concept of handing out novelty buckets at sporting events to be worn as hats, as well as visuals on the bucket including the cartoon image of the Colonel Sanders character and the BBL logos. The Panel found that the advertisement content was not principally appealing to children under 15 as it would be equally attractive to older teenagers and adults.

    Expected average audience – The Panel considered that Cricket Australia's social media pages (where the advertisement was posted) had a low percentage of followers under 17. The Panel also noted that although specific audience data for BBL and WBBL matches were not available, it was highly unlikely that children under 15 would make up over 25% of the audience.
    In view of the above, the Panal concluded that the advertisement did not target children and therefore sections 3.1 and 3.2 of the Code did not apply.

    Case 0007-22: Promotion on BBL's Instagram account The BBL Instagram posts in question included photos of children wearing KFC buckets on their heads, as well as a video featuring a group of children attempting to stack a large number of KFC buckets which eventually toppled over.

    Product – For reasons explained above, the Panel did not consider KFC fried chicken to be a product with principal or significant appeal to children.

    Advertisement content – Overall, the Panel considered that the advertisements would be equally attractive to children under 15, teenagers and adults, and were therefore not principally appealing to children.

    With respect to the photos, the Panel noted that the theme of wearing something silly on your head would be appealing to children, but the overall theme of promoting the cricket event was unlikely to appeal to children.

    As for the video, the Panel found that the visuals, including the cartoon animation of the Colonel Sanders character, and the children's interaction with the buckets to make it a "bucket moment" would have equal appeal to children and adults.

    Expected average audience – The Panel accepted KFC's submission that the BBL Instagram account had a low percentage of followers under the age of 17.

    As a result, the Panel concluded that the advertisements did not target children and therefore sections 3.1 and 3.2 of the Code did not apply.

    Authors: Lisa Ritson, Partner and Melissa Ho, Lawyer.