PETA wants to roast KFC in ads on city fire trucks


Published: Friday, January 8, 2010 at 9:28 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 8, 2010 at 9:28 p.m.

INDIANAPOLIS — An animal rights group figures if KFC can use fire extinguishers and hydrants to promote chicken wings, it should be able to use city fire trucks to denounce cruelty to chickens.

People for the Ethical Treatment for Animals has offered Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard $7,500 in return for advertising space on the vehicles, after the fast-food chain announced this week that it will pay for city fire extinguishers in exchange for advertising on them. It also is paying for smoke detectors the city will give away.

PETA's proposed ad shows a plucked and scalded chicken with the phrases "Chickens Are Burned To Death At KFC" and "Boycott Cruelty." The group claims many KFC chickens are scalded to death during processing; it has long criticized the restaurant's treatment of animals.

"Our money is as good as KFC's," PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman said in a statement. "The difference is that our money doesn't come from animal abuse."

KFC spokesman Rick Maynard defended the restaurant's practices and said PETA was known for resorting to publicity stunts.

KFC wants to expand the monthlong campaign to three other cities nationwide. So far, it also is giving $2,500 to Brazil, Ind., for the right to emblazon local hydrants with the face of the chain's founder, Colonel Sanders.

Jen Pittman, spokeswoman for the Indianapolis mayor, said Friday that PETA's offer would have to meet city guidelines that require corporate sponsorships to yield a public benefit.

But she said city officials contacted PETA Friday and suggested sponsoring programs at an animal shelter might be more appropriate.

"Not all kinds of city assets are appropriate to display an ad," she said. Heavy advertising on a fire truck could even lead motorists to believe a truck heading for an emergency was just performing a stunt, she said.

PETA spokeswoman Lindsay Rajt said the group's legal staff was reviewing the city's policy and questioned the public benefit of encouraging people to eat "unhealthy products."

"We believe our ads do have a clear public benefit," Rajt said.

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