A bit more about *that* KFC ‘families’ advert

KFC, adoption, adoptive, parenting, families, family, children, adopted, fostered, fostering

In case you missed me tweeting the life out of it yesterday, I wrote an article for Parentdish about reactions to KFC’s latest TV ad, which features an adoptive family.

In the article, I quoted a few disgrunted tweets from people who thought the ad was exploitative and/or oversimplified in its treatment of the issue of adoption and the effects of trauma. Some people thought it suggested KFC was a cure for early trauma. I don’t think it suggests that. You can read my full article here, including responses from KFC and Barnardo’s to the comments raised.

When I wrote my article (on Friday), I scoured social media in search of an adoption or fostering agency who had anything negative to say about the ad. I didn’t find any. Everyone seemed either to be very vocally in favour, or cautiously asking their followers ‘What you think?’.

Since then, BAAF have added their view on Facebook. They say:

‘We were pleased to see the profile of fostering raised, however thought the representation of looked after children was insensitive. The help needed goes far beyond “the ‘hands on’ experience of sharing a bucket.”’

I’d like to read more about the reasoning behind the ‘insensitive’ comment. I think it was a great portrayal of an adoptive family nervously welcoming their son into their home and celebrating his achievements above all the behaviour implied by the summons to the headteacher’s office.

I am not a fan of their chicken, but I will defend this ad’s portrayal of adoption to all comers. If you’re trying to present a reasoned argument, you can’t just say it was ‘insensitive’ or ‘exploitative’ without saying what you would have liked them to do differently. Should they have used their 60 seconds to show the parents pacing the floor, hoping for a CAMHS appointment that never comes? Or replaced the first kiss scene with a bit of self-harm? I think that might raise more complaints during an episode of Corrie… and I’m not convinced it would have the same tear-jerking, pass-the-phone-I-want-to-apply-to-adopt effect on viewers. If that emotional response means more people coming forward to adopt or foster, that’s a good thing, isn’t it? For this reason, among others, I don’t think replacing the adoptive family with another bland stereotyped birth family is the answer.

Another issue raised is that the ad is ‘profiteering’. If by that people mean that KFC intends to make a profit from sales resulting from the advert, I can’t disagree. That is how our economy works. If you choose to watch television stations funded by advertising, you are participating in the process. But a nuance of this argument which some have expressed is that KFC should give money to support looked-after and/or adopted children.

It does.

Since 2011, KFC has given financial support to Barnardo’s. From Barnardo’s website:

‘Our partnership with KFC UK and Ireland was launched in 2011. Since then KFC has become one of our largest and most committed supporters, donating £350,000 to fund our employability work and the introduction of a national work placement programme with Barnardo’s. The work placement programme aims to provide over 100 disadvantaged young people the opportunity to gain experience of the world of work by the end of 2013. In 2012, KFC also sponsored the development of a newly accredited pre-employability skills qualification called “Skills for Life, Living and Employment” with OCR. The Skills for Life, Living and Employment qualification is specifically designed to support disadvantaged young people across Barnardo’s services develop the necessary skills needed in the workplace.’

So although I’m not rushing out to buy a KFC any time soon, I’m a bit more of a fan than I was this time last week, and to be honest, I’m still a bit baffled about what there is to dislike about the ad. KFC might win me round yet.

Your comments are welcome…

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1 Comment

  1. 26 February 2015 / 10:13 pm

    I wasn’t sure about the ad at first, but I’m warming to it the more I see it. Every comment from foster carers I have read about it has been positive. Many comments from adopters I have read have not been so. I wonder if the difference boils down to how our two experiences are routinely characterised in the media? Foster caring seems often to be portrayed very negatively, and ‘care kids’ are often, basically, trouble-makers, criminals etc. in TV dramas etc. (obviously I’m generalising). It’s more complex than that. So a rare media example of a foster family doing well, making a difference – a positive portrayal – is welcomed. On the other hand, adoption is often presented as a ‘hearts and roses’ experience in the media with an attitude of ‘love cures everything’. It’s more complex than that. So a portrayal that seems to help to perpetuate that, often unhelpful, stereotype, is not welcomed. As a foster carer I am happy to see a portrayal of a foster family that makes a difference, of a looked-after child who succeeds, even though we know this happy ending is not always achieved. As an adopter I do wince a bit at the implication that it’s as easy as sharing a bucket of chicken and then maybe a couple of visits to the head’s office (where everyone is smartly dressed and there are no emergency services present!). And I really do like the chicken!

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