Soul food ad funny - not offensive

05 September 2014 - 11:00
By Aarti J Narsee
Chicken Licken's Hot Wings
Image: SUPPLIED Chicken Licken's Hot Wings

The Advertising Standards Authority has ruled that a popular Chicken Licken advert which was broadcast on several television stations, did not belittle the Hindu religion.

The advert features the journey of the slightly overweight, middle-aged Ricky Alexander Douglas from Lonehill, Johannesburg to the Himalayas in South Asia to “replenish himself”.

Alvin Baliram, 42, a Chicken Licken fan from Johannesburg, complained about the “offensive” advert that “contains depictions which are sacred to the Hindu religion”.

In one scene, Ricky - dressed in a vest with beads - says: “That's the reason why I came here. To replenish myself and replenish what the man world has taken from me.”

However, his actions - including performing yoga poses on a mountain top, licking the head of a statue and having milk poured on him - attract ridicule from Hindu devotees dressed in traditional attire, who call him an “idiot”. In another scene, he exchanges his laptop case for a rock.

Tying in with Chicken Licken’s tagline of providing “soul food”, the advert ends with the words: “Never let your soul go hungry” and suggests eating a Chicken Licken meal.

Golden Fried Chicken, the franchiser of the fast food outlet, denied the advert was offensive, saying it played on the notion of a “hungry soul” in a tongue-in-cheek manner.

The advert is “over the top and humorous” and is about the “silliness of trying to follow something that one does not understand,” it added.

In its dismissal of the complaint, the authority said the advert was "reasonable and justifiable" and that no comment or judgment was passed on the Hindu religion.

“None of the devotees shown are depicted as arrogant, trifle, or acting contrary to their teachings. Similarly, none of the rituals are being mocked, or held as examples of a trivial nature,” the authority said.

The authority described the advert as a clever play on Chicken Licken’s “Rock My Soul” offering.

“The notion being that one should not go to such extremes to ‘replenish’ one’s soul, because its food could provide some sort of sustenance in a much more convenient and affordable manner,” it noted.

Yesterday (4-9-14), Peter Schumacher from advertising agency Net#work BBDO, which made the advert, said Chicken Licken was “thrilled” with the ruling.

Baliram, on the other hand, described the ruling as a "load of hogwash", but added that he did not plan to appeal it. He also planned to continue eating Chicken Licken meals.