KFC's offer of $500 to every "co-ed" who agrees to wear a pair of sweatpants that say "Double Down" across the butt is yet another example of an increasingly tiresome trend in which fast-food companies use women as sex objects in their advertising. I'm not being prudish (I did just call for the legalization of prostitution, after all) -- I'm just against low-rent ideas. And this promotion is as low as they come.
KFC's Double Down sandwich has no bun -- it's just an "actually pretty tasty" pile of chicken, bacon, cheese, and more chicken in a wrapper -- and therein lies the pun on which this promotion rests. KFC, a unit of Yum! Brands (YUM), is completely upfront about the fact it regards women as ad objects:
Via the creative on-clothing ad campaign, the chicken chain will recruit college co-eds to serve as "human billboards." On select college campuses, female undergraduates will sport KFC Double Down branded sweat pants to encourage students to try the unique bun-less sandwich.The women in KFC's PR photo (above) don't even have faces. They're only useful for their butts.
Even the use of the word "co-ed" is code. Almost all colleges in the U.S. have been "co-educational" for decades, and good writing guidelines warn authors not to use it. Currently, the word exists predominantly as a shorthand in the porn world.
KFC isn't alone. In other recent fast-food ads women have been:
- portrayed literally as meat (in a spec ad for Quiznos which can still be seen here);.
- taking a shower with the words "Breakfast Watch" on their bikini bottoms for Burger King (BK).
- shown "sharing" a sandwich in a Quiznos ad titled "2 Girls 1 Sub."
- depicted open-mouthed in front of BK's Super Seven Incher sandwich.
In fact, KFC isn't that sexy these days. Sales are down 7 percent in comparable stores, and the chain is embroiled in a civil war with its own franchisees over KFC's failed grilled chicken offering.
It'll take more than ass-vertising to fix all that.