The VICE Guide to Right Now

KFC Just Dropped Its Iconic ‘It's Finger Lickin’ Good’ Tagline Due to COVID-19

KFC awarded itself the winner for the “most inappropriate slogan for 2020.”
August 26, 2020, 7:47am

KFC is known for many things. There’s the secret “11 herbs and spices” supposedly found in their original fried chicken recipe, the red and white buckets they come in, and of course its logo based on the man who started it all, Colonel Sanders. And then there’s the tagline “It’s Finger Lickin’ Good,” which, up until recently, was totally fit for a fast food joint. Then coronavirus happened. In a new, amusingly self-aware ad campaign, KFC announced that it would be dropping the iconic slogan, at least for now.

“And the winner of the award for the most inappropriate slogan for 2020 goes to…KFC,” the company quipped in a global press release published on Monday, Aug. 24.

To be fair, no one could have predicted that the world would be hit with a pandemic requiring people to wear face masks, wash their hands, and avoid touching their faces, but apparently, at least some thought that showing people licking their fingers on TV as the coronavirus continues to spread is a big no-no. In March, the United Kingdom’s Advertising Standards Authority received 163 complaints about a KFC TV ad which featured people licking their fingers, leading the chain to drop the ad, the BBC reported.

A short history lesson: KFC started using the “It’s Finger Lickin’ Good” slogan 64 years ago. According to Creative Review, it is believed that the line was coined after Dave Harman, a franchisee from Phoenix, was seen eating chicken in the background of a TV commercial. A viewer complained to restaurant manager Ken Harbough, who spontaneously responded, “Well, it’s finger lickin’ good.”

KFC did a total 180 in its latest video, blurring the words “finger lickin’” on old billboards and fried chicken buckets.

“That thing we always say? Ignore it. For now,” the ad goes. It’s a pretty cool one, considering it looks like it’s made almost entirely of text and photos. Of course, it is still an ad and KFC assured customers that their fried chicken isn’t going anywhere.

“[R]est assured the food craved by so many people around the world isn’t changing one bit,” Catherine Tan-Gillespie, global chief marketing officer at KFC said.

The cheeky video isn’t anything new for KFC, which has produced some pretty quirky campaigns in the past. In July, it released a collaboration with divisive footwear brand Crocs — chicken-scented clogs. Many scratched their heads upon seeing the photo but it sold out in 30 minutes.

Find Miran on Instagram.