I kinda like the new KFC ‘The Whole Chicken’ advert which features the dulcet tones of DMX. There I said it.
I’m not a fan of dissonance for the sake of dissonance generally and it’s become a shorthand for lazy campaigns – seen, more often than not, in adverts for the likes of price-comparison websites, betting companies and insurance outfits. If you want a good example look no further than the cast-iron bollocks of the Epic Skeletor advert or deleterious Halifax ads starring Everything You Liked From Your Childhood.
They can largely be boiled down to X + Y = advert, where X is a horrible company selling something boring and Y is an 80s meme. On that basis the KFC advert would seem to fit squarely within that bracket, but whereas most of these adverts look no further than one of those “Do You Remember The Last Decade But One?” programmes or an episode of Top of the Pops from 1985, this one goes all out to include one of rap’s most aggressive and in-your-face artists of the 90s, a man who once made an ex-girlfriend of mine screw up her face in horror at one of his lyrics while his music was playing in my car.
DMX doesn’t do a lot for me but I’ve always admired the straight-up aggression of X Gon’ Give It To Ya, a song – if it can be called a song – where the X issues three minutes of threats, boasts and general menace. This is not a track for the faint-hearted. Add it to some visuals of a dancing chicken and it’s sufficiently striking and odd that it can’t help be engaging. Simply, you have to admire the balls. Were the soundtrack to me some ironic use of an 80s hit, dayglo 90s pop or disco shite and it would be so lacking in imagination it would go straight into the shit pile.
Of course, raising the lulz is the basic currency of the internet these days. Attention – whether positive or blazingly negative – is something to be harvested, like the entrails of the hens strutting around wherever KFC buys its Live Meat Bits. Not they would be strutting, in all likelihood either, as KFC doesn’t source free-range chickens.
And call me an embittered, professionally-disgruntled website (many have) but there’s a whiff of 2016 about this. It’s a bit Trumpy in the way that the orange-faced twat has lent legitimacy to all manner of horrible behaviours and views. To me this advert says ‘go on, eat us – it’s OK, we’re virtually asking for it’. By making that connection explicit – that an animal died for you to stuff your face full of greasy chicken – it’s almost abnegating any guilt you might feel. They want to be eaten.
I’m ambivalent about this. On one hand I find that deeply disquieting – from the same mode of thinking in advertising that people deserve and should have whatever they want. It’s a mantra of deep selfishness and narcissism and I hate it.
On the other hand I have no sympathy for people who don’t want to be reminded of the cost of their various appetites, whether its sweatshops for clothes, animals for food or mass killings of brown people for Class A drugs. If you can’t handle the idea of cute animals dying so you can gorge yourself then stop eating meat you moron.
Not that there’s much honesty on show. If your mission is to show the unexpurgated truth of what makes KFC such a finger-lickin’ good experience then you should really show these hens limping around with one foot, featherless, pumped full of steroids and antibiotics and with an eye pecked out. I’m going out on a limb to suggest there’s no hip-hop soundtrack wherever hens live their short lives before fed into a grinder either. In keeping with what is probably a profoundly miserable existence it’s probably Catfish and the Fucking Bottlemen.
PETA are up in arms about it – claiming that it’s a lift from their own playbook, which makes the connection between living animal and dead animal. But PETA are a bunch of cunts so while I’m inclined to agree that this is deliberately flirting with – and subverting – their messages I’ve little sympathy. There’s a kid of evil genius in that.
So a brave, bold advert then. Kinda horrible, but it made me laugh. And in these heady times, isn’t that all that matters?
NB. Needless to say I won’t be venturing into KFC any time soon. I’m not a fucking idiot.
NB2. Also I’d like to add that KFC’s slogan should probably be ‘The Whole Chicken – and some faecal matter’