Commercial Analysis

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Empathy Tastes Like Chicken

with 2 comments

This commercial is making the public aware of the existence of a new product. The ostensible selling point is the convenience that it’s newly designed container affords. However, at the same time, the commercial is dramatizing the quality of the food (ie: it’s so high that people will do extraordinary things just to consume it). It can’t be both (the veteran cop could have just as conveniently stolen the rookie cop’s soda from the car’s drink holder instead of his chicken, and he would have just as willingly stolen it from a bag left on the rookie cop’s seat if it was really that tempting), so which is it?

The answer is that it’s neither. What this commercial is really selling is KFC itself. KFC’s (alleged) take on the world. The kind of people that (allegedly) constitute this thing known as “KFC.”

This commercial is trying to endear the brand to the consumer by providing the consumer with something entirely different than objective claims about the product’s merit in this aspect or that. What it’s doing is providing a certain type of mentality with psychological visibility. KFC knows that there are many, many people out there who have no firm moral principles – and as a result, feel a great deal of resentment towards those who do. A police officer is the archetypal morally-principled human being – so if he doesn’t have any principles either, then those people feel a moment’s peace and comfort (because it relieves them of any guilt that they feel for not having principles, despite any conscious belief that they are pointless). Seeing a police officer violate his principles (or unwittingly confess that he never really has sincerely had any) allows them to feel as though they have been right all along – and that their lack of any comes not from a slow, gradual erosion of them (or a failure to acquire them in the first place), but from a conscious, sober, “realistic and mature” approach to reality. It flatters their nihilism, and KFC hopes that in the future, whenever such people think of the “reasons” for their rejection of moral principles (and the very concept of the need for them), they will automatically (to them, inexplicably) think of KFC too.

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Written by commercialanalysis

October 22, 2013 at 5:58 pm

Posted in Food and Drink

2 Responses

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  1. This is brilliant. I was appalled by this commercial (and a few others like it, but less so), and was going to write a blog post about them. Now I’ll just write a blog post linking here.

    Atanas Entchev

    October 26, 2013 at 3:29 pm

    • Thanks very much! …and I read your blog post about this commercial. It’s very satisfying to see that others out there have the same thoughts about our cultural trends that I do (and I appreciate the link!).

      commercialanalysis

      October 26, 2013 at 6:36 pm


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