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Playing Chicken

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They know they'll be laughed at, but the chicken people say a Carl's Jr. ad is "completely offensive."

The ad, via Mendelsohn/Zien, Los Angeles, introduces "Chicken Breast Strips," and shows three "scientists" examining a live chicken, searching for its "nuggets." The idea is to poke fun at chains that offer nuggets, not strips. But United Poultry Concerns wants the ad plucked. The Machipongo, Va.-based group, which promotes "respectful treat ment of domestic fowl," says the ad "models itself on scenes of gang rape." UPC founder Karen Davis tells Shoptalk that the bird in the ad was probably sedated because it doesn't make a fuss when turned upside down. "A chicken would go crazy if you tried to do that," says Davis, who shares her home with 138 underprivileged chickens that she has "rescued."

Davis is urging people to call Carl's Jr. parent CKE and the ad agency, but admits that she expects to be mocked. "I know they will pro bably just use it as grist for their publicity mill," she said.

Sure enough, it was Richard Zien of M/Z who told Shoptalk about the protest. "I was quite amused by it," said Zien, who claimed to have received 5,000 angry e-mails about the ad. "There are a bunch of vegetarians who disapprove of anyone who eats meat," he says.

On that point, Davis agrees: "We don't support an animal-based diet," she says. "So the people who support our cause are probably not eating at Carl's Jr. anyway."