The advertising watchdog is investigating an ad by animal rights group Peta that shows KFC's Colonel Sanders spattered in blood and about to knife a chicken, after a complaint that it was offensive and could distress children.
The ad, on the front cover of a leaflet that Peta distributes across the UK, is part of a campaign the animal rights group is running against the fast food chain under the title "KFC Cruelty".
The text on the front of the leaflet states: "KFC Cruelty. The Colonel's secret recipe includes: live scalding, painful de-beaking, crippled chickens".
Inside the leaflet, the group makes a range of accusations about the treatment of chickens, claiming birds are "starving", their beaks are cut off "with a hot blade" and they are kept in a "faeces-contaminated shed".
The complainant to the Advertising Standards Authority said that the circular was "offensive, irresponsible and unsuitable for targeted delivery" and was "particularly concerned" that it could distress children who picked it up.
"The cartoon image of Colonel Sanders killing a chicken on our leaflet is obviously a caricature - a comic. We cannot imagine that our leaflet would provoke fear in anyone unless the reader was a chicken."
-- To contact the MediaGuardian news desk email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 020 7239 9857. For all other inquiries please call the main Guardian switchboard on 020 7278 2332.