Colonel Sanders isn't anti-Christian! KFC advert cleared of offending Christians after 30 people complain campaign 'mocked religion'

The complainants argued that it mocked a key element of Christian worship

It's a light-hearted take on the crass commercialisation and hype surrounding Christmas, with silly lyrics and fried chicken to boot.

What's not to like?

Well, plenty according to 30 people who unsuccessfully complained to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) that a Kentucky Fried Chicken Christmas advert was likely to cause serious and widespread offence because it "mocked an element of Christian worship".

The campaign, which was screened last Christmas, featured a group of carol singers outside a house singing the lyrics: "We showed up at your house again singing all our stupid songs", with the male homeowner replying: "Normally I'd hose you down, but now it just seems wrong."

The company argued that the advert was tongue-in-cheek and typified the perspective of a stereotypical grumpy old man, based on Charles Dickens' character Ebenezer Scrooge, who was usually irritated by everything about Christmas, particularly Christmas songs.

However, the complainants argued that it mocked a key element of Christian worship. KFC said it was not its intention to mock any faith or religion and it did not seek to offend anyone.

Advertising clearance service Clearcast said it considered the possibility that Christians may have been offended by the ad when they first read the pre-production script, but took the view that, because the context was light-hearted and tongue-in-cheek and because the narrative was one of unity and harmony, it was unlikely that any offence taken from the ad would be serious or widespread among viewers.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said: "We considered that, whilst some viewers may have found the lyrics in reference to the carols to be flippant and at the expense of carol singers, we noted the ad made clear that the carol singers were outside someone's house and were not in a church or any other place of worship and that they were therefore not representative of Christian singing or the Christian faith more generally.

"Whilst we understood that some people of the Christian faith felt that the song lyric in the ad ridiculed their faith, we considered that most viewers would not interpret the lyrics as mocking Christianity (in total or in part) and concluded that the ad was unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence."

In 2010 KFC in Australia was forced to pull an advert after being accused of racial insensitivity.

The spot featured a white cricket supporter winning over a crowd of black West Indies fans with a bucket of fried chicken. The advert was only ever screened in Australia but was widely criticised in the US after being posted on the internet.

KFC Australia said at the time the advert was "light-hearted" and had been "misinterpreted" by some in the United States, where it had not intended for the commercial to be shown.