NFL Is Personally Offended By KFC's "Ambush Marketing"

Oh no! By offering $260,000 to charity if a New York Giants or New England Patriots player does “the chicken dance” in the end zone during SuperBowl XLII, KFC has offended the delicate sensibilities of the National Football League.

“KFC is not affiliated with the NFL in any fashion, so this is a textbook case of ambush marketing 101,” NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said. “There are many different companies that try to draft off the excitement of the Super Bowl that have no right to any of the activities going on.”

The horror. The NFL went on to say that any player caught incorporating the chicken dance into his endzone celebration could face fines.

“We’re not going to play the role of Simon Cowell and critique dances,” McCarthy said. “But if a player acted in a way that was a reflection of a corporate message, then we’d have to take a look at it.”

Now, now, Mr. McCarthy. Don’t try to “draft off the excitement” of American Idol. We’re on to you.

KFC says they have a charitable plan for the money even if no player or half-time performer does the dance.

NFL: Players should duck chicken promo [Boston Herald]
(AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)


Edit Your Comment

  1. ChrisC1234 says:

    Ok, so what I want to know is if a player DOES do the Chicken Dance and gets fined by the NFL, can they then take a tax writeoff counting that as a charitable donation?

  2. forever_knight says:

    the NFL is just bluffing.

    the amount of backlash they would receive from the public if they punished a player would be enormous.

  3. m4ximusprim3 says:

    @ChrisC1234: Only if he can convince KFC not to on their balance sheet.

    Good luck with that.

  4. MSUHitman says:

    The NFL is not bluffing. Last year at media day, Bears LB Brian Urlacher wore a Vitaminwater baseball cap. Urlacher is an endorser of the drink but it is not an official drink sponsor of the NFL. 1 month later, the NFL gave Urlacher a $100,000 fine for wearing a “non-approved sponsor piece of paraphanalia.”

    Don’t forget this is also the league that wouldn’t let coaches dress in suits unless they were specifically designed by Reebok, and lets Patriots head coach Bill Belichick dress like a teenager on drugs during the game and it’s ok because it’s all offical licensed clothing.

  5. emona says:

    I think you mean Simon Fuller, Mr. McCarthy.

  6. egoebelbecker says:

    So….if KFC wanted to offer $260K to charity morally and ethically, they’d give the NFL their cut too.

    I see.

  7. Meg Marco says:

    @ChrisC1234: I think he could try deducting it as a necessary business expense.

  8. Tracy Ham and Eggs says:

    @ChrisC1234: The fines are given to a designated charity fund (I think the players choose a handful of groups) so a fine would be a tax deduction.

  9. doormat says:


    Exactly, the NFL loves to shit all over anyone else doing anything that is related to the superbowl where they dont get their cut.

    Check out one part of the copyright code that specifies games cant be shown on TVs larger than 55″ that aren’t normally showing sports. In Las Vegas, a few years ago the Palms hotel casino tried to show the SB on their IMAX screen – the NFL threatened to sue for millions and they had to cancel it. Also you cant charge attendance to superbowl parties, etc, etc.

  10. hypnotik_jello says:

    @quarterly: Actually, Simon Cowell is the judge, and Simon Fuller is the executive producer (!judge)

  11. SpdRacer says:

    @MSUHitman: The best part is now VitaminWater is an official NFL sponsor

  12. TechnoDestructo says:



    If I’m reading that right, there’s no limit to how big the screen could be if the place has fewer than 2000 total square feet. Well, except that imposed by the 2000 square foot limitation.

  13. UpsetPanda says:

    @doormat: They really tried to put the superbowl on an IMAX screen? All I can think of is people getting violently ill because of the sound level and the motion. Uggh.

  14. picardia says:

    I actually think the NFL would be shouted down by the public for penalizing something done for charity. And honestly, whimpering about marketing from people who sell ads on the hash marks = extra-ludicrous.

  15. emona says:

    @hypnotik_jello: That will teach me to comment on shows I don’t wantch. I even Wikipedia’d it. (grumble)

  16. PølάrβǽЯ says:

    So if a player is endorsed by Nike, and he makes a touchdown and points to his shoes and says “Just do it!” will the NFL fine him? Isn’t the reason a sponser pays a player is to get the player to endorse the product?

    Honestly, I love football, but I think the worst thing about football is the NFL. The NFL is the reason why many cableco’s can’t carry the NFL network; they want way too much damn money for it!

  17. elavender says:

    This one quote from McCarthy really bothers me.. “There are many different companies that try to draft off the excitement of the Super Bowl that have no right to any of the activities going on.”

    He forgot to add: Unless the NFL sees some of it. This may be common knowledge, but I’m guessing all of the commercials that are played during the Super Bowl are paid in part to the NFL as well? That’s a pretty big example of “companies trying to draft off the excitement of the Super Bowl”.

  18. marsneedsrabbits says:

    Sooooo… none of the winners, caught on camera in the end zone, will be going to DisneyLand this year?

  19. hypnotik_jello says:

    @quarterly: Actually I don’t watch the show (or television for that matter) but I have enormous amounts of random trivia about popular culture in my brain – probably from reading wikipedia all day.

  20. wilmawonker says:

    oooh, kfc. i’m hungry, that’s a good idea.

  21. lightaugust says:

    So, does the Colonel get off scott-free here? Make a press release, give a 250,000 to charity? Hmmmm, if I’m a marketer over at Fun Brands or whatever the hell it’s called, I just figured out how to get advertised during the Stupor Bowl by paying about 10% of the going rate… Oh, nevermind, it’s OK, since it’s going to CHARITY. Honestly, using charity to cover that up offends me more than what the NFL is doing. Why don’t they advertise that instead of wasting millions on some overproduced ad, and then on the airtime they’re going to give that cash to Charity. Then it counts as actual, real live, we-give-a-shit-about-people who-aren’t-buying-Burrito-Supremes charity.

  22. chiieddy says:

    Doesn’t the NFL already fine players for “inappropriate” end zone celebration?

  23. cmdr.sass says:

    I am an NFL lawyer and I am here to sue all of you for unauthorized use of the trademarks “Super Bowl” and “NFL”.

  24. topgun says:

    Once again NFL stands for the No-Fun-League.
    Hey as much as I dislike KFC’s product, I may just get
    a few wings because I applaud their effort. I think Chiquita should offer the same if a Quarterback replaces that green sticker on the back of their helmet with one of their banana stickers.
    Which begs another question. If the QB is the only guy with radio contact to the coaching staff why do they need the green sticker to say he’s the guy with radio contact to the coaches? It’s an FCC thing, isn’t it.

  25. topgun says:

    @cmdr.sass: I live in a small town, and we have a pizzeria advertising for a “BIG FOOTBALL GAME DAY PARTY on Feb. 3rd.”. Guess you got them scared.

  26. LilKoko says:

    @lightaugust: I was thinking along those lines, too.

    Wouldn’t the fine be waaaayyy cheaper than paying for advertising? And that fine is pocket change for some of the players, too. Tax write-offs, doing it for charity, flipping-the-bird to the greedy NFL — I’m not seeing the downside here.

  27. lostalaska says:

    @cmdr.sass: Everybody run! the IP police are here to take us all away for I.P. Sensitivity seminars for the next six months.

  28. acasto says:

    Another reason why I only watch college football. The OT rules for college football are IMHO much more exciting. Just look at the recent Giants-Packers game vs. multiple LSU games last year.

  29. heyguy says:

    @lightaugust: I agree. KFC come off as slimy assholes here. If they were donating $2.5m, that would be a different story.

  30. mac-phisto says:

    @chiieddy: i was gonna say the same thing.

    & if i were playing in the big game, i’d make sure every touchdown scored came with a team-wide chicken dance.

    i miss endzone antics. :*(

  31. jjason82 says:

    @forever_knight: They’ve been fining players for dancing in the endzones for years now and the public has been fine with it. Why would this be any different?

  32. forever_knight says:

    @jjason82: uh, because it’s for freaking charity and not some random idiot dancing?? sure it’s not all innocent: KFC wants some cheap publicity, but $250k can do a lot of good.

    nothing like making the NFL look like scrooge after the recent NFL network disaster.

  33. forever_knight says:

    @MSUHitman: the difference is personal gain by endorsing vitamin water vs. chicken dance (not wearing KFC clothing) and $250k goes to charity.

    the key here is money towards charity. the NFL knows that they will look horrible if they fine a player for basically contributing $250k to a charity. DESPITE KFC’s end run around expensive advertising.

  34. Rompcat says:

    If KFC wanted to be impish, they might re-tool their deal so that they would donate the money — very obstreperously, of course — if there was ANY EMOTION AT ALL displayed in the end zone.

  35. bnb614 says:

    Reminder, everyone please quit using the term ‘Super Bowl’ in your posts. They’ll sue you for that too. Pizza places used to run ads offering specials on Super Bowl Sunday and the NFL would send cease and desist letters. Last year I remember a story about a cease and desist letter to a church that was having a viewing party for it’s members.

    They even tried to trademark the term ‘Big Game’ last year.

  36. tk427 says:


    Do they own “Super Sunday” too?

  37. WraithSama says:

    Keep in mind that because the NFL is not a government agency, any fines that they impose can be written off as a business expense.

    The same applied to New England Patriot’s coach Bill Belichick.

  38. b-real says:


    Only one player on the field can have radio contact with the sideline, and it’s usually the QB. The green sticker makes it easier for the refs to ensure the team adheres to the rule.

  39. guevera says:

    @elavender: not directly, network pays big $ to carry game, charges big $ to advertise.

    As far as being skilled shakdown artists, The NFL puts the mob to shame.

    Their long-term goal is bypassing the networks/stations that helped them get so big time and become both producer and distributor.

    NFL network is just intermediate step until next generation of broadband tv distribution comes together. If you think you’re getting robbed now by Comcast, TW, etc. now, just wait until the league gets that monopoly on the distribution end, too.

  40. faust1200 says:

    How dare they try to make money on the Superbowl! The Superbowl is not about money but about the triumph of the will and athletic competition! Shaaa right.

  41. stvcsk says:

    What about the “You’ve just wont he Superbowl, what are you gonna do next?” “I’m going to Disneyworld!” of the past? Personally I couldn’t care less, and being a fan of the free market, if a player could make some extra money by doing something in-game that doesn’t affect the outcome or break the rules, why not?

  42. ElizabethD says:

    LOL! You for the win.

  43. TMurphy says:

    If only it were possible to organize a boycott of NFL games…

  44. snoop-blog says:
  45. Jaysyn was banned for: says:

    I hate KFC & the NFL. I hope they both die.

  46. bnb614 says:


    Of course I was being sarcastic about not using the term Super Bowl. It wouldn’t surprise me if they tried to block using the term Super Sunday.

    You can hardly find any NFL clips on YouTube because they have them immediately taken down. I hope someone soon exerts their fair use rights and sues them under the DMCA.

    Agreed, the NFL is more thuggish than the mob.

  47. Sonnymooks says:

    For those folks who think the NFL is bluffing or would face a huge PR hit for fining a player for doing the chicken dance when proceeds go to charity.

    The NFL does NOT give a shit.

    They will fine said player, maybe not immediately, but they will do it.

    They think they are pretty much immune to most bad PR (and they seem to be right).

    They will NOT be shamed into anything, they don’t give a rats ass if the money goes to charity, they will fine any said player, and make it harsh, and piss on anyone who says they are wrong.

  48. Sonnymooks says:


    If you want to hear something sad, there currently is several boycotts going on against NFL teams.

    I know the redskins and the chiefs are currently being boycotted…but as the joke goes, if no one cares, then does it make a difference?

  49. Soldier_CLE says that Hideo Kojima has to make MGS till the day he dies! says:

    Thank you, NFL.

    This story (among others) is why I believe “The Big Game”, or “The Real Grand-daddy of them all” is THE BCS FOOTBALL CHAMPIONSHIP GAME!

    So much for having a “Super” Bowl game… College Football FTW!

  50. b-real says:

    As much as I agree with the charitable desires of KFC, the NFL is right: it is THEIR property that is being used in an unauthorized manner. The NFL has built its Super Bowl brand into a juggernaut over the last 30 years and another company is trying to capitalize on it, albeit for a positive purpose.

  51. rdldr1 says:

    NFL = No Fun League

  52. psyop63b says:

    I’d like to see how the NFL would handle that negative feedback. [Player’s name here] does the chicken dance so KFC will donate $260K to [worthy charity name here]; gets fined [outrageous figure] by NFL fatcats.

  53. clevershark says:

    I hope that someone does it after each touchdown, and then the NFL will look like right cocks for penalizing those players…

    Seriously though, exactly why is it that the big sports leagues in the US are spending so much time and resources ensuring that as much fun is sucked out of their sports as possible?

  54. theblackdog says:

    @b-real: I wonder if it’s also so that they don’t use that particular helmet during practice, less risk of damaging the radio equipment.

  55. Saboth says:

    Lol…pretty funny. Players can smoke crack, beat hookers, take bribes and whatever else they feel like doing off-field, but ooooh..don’t let them catch you doing the “chicken dance” after a touchdown or there will be hell to pay!