KFC discount slammed by advertising watchdog

By Michael Stones

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Kfc

The advertising watchdog has banned a KFC TV advert, after claims it was misleading
The advertising watchdog has banned a KFC TV advert, after claims it was misleading
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has banned a TV advert from Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC), after a customer complained a special price offer was misleading.

The ASA ruled: “The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Kentucky Fried Chicken to ensure that in future they made clear when their prices varied.”

Key to the verdict was a voice-over accompanying an advert for a fried chicken meal. The voice-over stated “The new KFC Family Burger Box – a choice of four fillet or zinger burgers, large popcorn chicken and fries. Feed the family and save a fiver – just £14.99.” ​The advert also contained the text message “Item shown £20.51 if bought individually. Prices may vary.”

The customer complained the advert was misleading because she had been unable buy the product for the stated price.

‘Prices may vary’

In its defence, KFC said “prices may vary”​ referred to the a la carte menu pricing of individual items, the price of the Family Burger Box and the exact saving made between those two prices.

Instead of its usual message “price may vary”,​ the retailer has used the word “prices”​ in order to make it clear this referred to all prices quoted in the ad. The on-screen text made clear that the prices quoted in the ad could vary depending on the store visited, it claimed.

KFC said prices varied between stores because they were legally unable to fix the pricing within all the franchisee stores, and could only recommend pricing.

The number of restaurants that sold the Family Burger Box product at a higher price was said to be a substantial minority of KFC UK stores. They accounted for about 15 stores out of 850 stores nationally. The firm said it kept a record of the price range on the Family Burger Box within their system (£14.99‒£16.99). The adjusted individual menu prices meant that the saving was always over £5, as its advert claimed, it argued.

‘Without complaint from viewers’

Clearcast – the non-governmental organisation that approves most TV advertising – endorsed KFC’s response. “They were aware of Kentucky Fried Chicken’s pricing system and requested that any of their ads that featured prices included the text ‘price may vary’,”​ said the ASA. This guidance had been in place for more than six years, without complaint from viewers, said Clearcast.

The ASA agreed that most KFC restaurants sold the Family Burger Box at the price quoted in the advert, and that the saving in all stores was over £5. It also acknowledged Clearcast and KFC’s argument that they had used the plural in the on-screen text "prices may vary"​ in order to indicate that this referred to all prices quoted in the ad.

But the advert did not explicitly state whether “prices may vary”​ referred to the items totalling £20.51, the Family Burger Box price of £14.99, or both. It noted too, the text stating “Item shown £20.51 if bought individually”​ and “prices may vary”​ appeared on-screen at the same time. This could lead viewers to believe that “prices may vary”​ referred only to the items totalling £20.51, said the ASA.

“We concluded that it was not sufficiently clear that ‘prices may vary’ referred to all prices quoted in the advert,”​ it ruled.

Related news

Show more

Related suppliers

Follow us

Featured Jobs

View more


Food Manufacture Podcast

Listen to the Food Manufacture podcast