KFC’s ad parodying a shark attack on Australian surfer Mick Fanning has angered the three-time world champion’s mother.
The ad aired in South Africa, where Mick Fanning was attacked in a competition in July.
In it, an actor who resembles Mick Fanning surfs a wave holding a computer-generated shark over his head.
Mick Fanning’s mother Elizabeth Osborne, who watched the attack unfold on live TV, said it was disrespectful.
“They’ve put a lookalike in the video. It really brings back a lot of trauma for everybody who has been attacked by a shark,” Elizabeth Osborne told Fairfax Media.
“Some families have had fatalities and some people are still absolutely scarred without limbs.
“It’s disrespectful to them and Mick is not at all happy with that,” she said.
Elizabeth Osborne also said the World Surf League (WSL), the sport’s governing body, was considering legal action to have the campaign cut short. A WSL spokesperson declined to comment, according to the report.
Mick Fanning was competing at Jeffreys Bay, on the eastern Cape, during the final of the J-Bay Open when he was knocked off his surfboard and into the sea by a shark.
The Australian punched and kicked the shark before being rescued by a lifeguard on a jet ski.
Mick Fanning escaped injury. The tournament was called off soon afterwards.
Elizabeth Osborne has said it was “absolutely terrifying” to watch the attack unfold on live television.
KFC South Africa has yet to make any comment, but its Australian counterpart sought to distance itself from the commercial.
A KFC Australia spokesman told Fairfax: “The advertisement has been produced in South Africa – KFC Australia is very sensitive to the situation in Australia and this is not the type of ad we would choose to show here.”
Australian surfer Mick Fanning has vowed to return to surfing despite fighting off a shark during this year’s J-Bay Open in South Africa.
Mick Fanning, 34, described his terrifying ordeal to reporters in Sydney on his return home.
He thanked his “warrior” mate and fellow competitor Julian Wilson who swam into the fray to help.
In one light moment, Mick Fanning was asked if he had a message for the shark.
He replied: “Thanks for not eating me.”
“I guess someone was looking out for me. To walk away from a shark attack with not a scratch on you, it’s a miracle really,” he said.
Mick Fanning was the defending champion at the tournament at Jeffreys Bay in South Africa’s Eastern Cape and a three-time world champion.
Dramatic footage of the encounter on July 19 showed the moment when the shark hit the back of his board.
“It sort of came up and went for the tail of my board,” Mick Fanning said.
“I don’t know why it didn’t bite. It just kept coming back.”
“I was on top of it, trying to put my board in between us,” he said.
“I don’t know if I punched it hard or if they were baby punches. I just went into fight or flight.”
After that, jet-skis and rescue boats arrived to pick Mick Fanning up.
Julian Wilson, also a competitor at the event, paddled towards Mick Fanning when he saw the shark.
“I came over the wave, praying he would be there and not … with blood everywhere,” he told reporter at the same press conference.
“The worst case scenario is in your head.”
Mick Fanning said he would return to surfing, and to the J-Bay event, but it may take some time.
“I’m sure I’ll go surfing [soon], surfing has given me so much, it’s something that gives me peace, I’m sure I’ll go back out … I’m quite anxious to get back home,” Mick Fanning said according to the Guardian.
Australian surf champion Mick Fanning was attacked by a shark in South African waters while he was competing at an event in Jeffreys Bay in the Eastern Cape on July 19.
Mick Fanning’s mother watched “terrified” on live TV as her son was attacked by the shark.
The 34-year-old surfer punched and kicked the shark and was soon rescued by a jet-ski.
“I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I thought we’d lost him,” Mick Fanning’s mother, Elizabeth Osborne, told ABC News.
“I was absolutely terrified. I went over to the television almost as though I could pull him out… to save him,” she told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation from her home on Australia’s Gold Coast.
Elizabeth Osborne had already lost a son to a car crash 17 years ago and she said those memories came back to her.
“When Sean was killed in the car accident, I didn’t see it,” she said.
“I saw this just in front of me. It was just terrible.”
Mick Fanning, the defending champion at the tournament and a three-time world champion, escaped without any injuries.
“I was just sitting there and I felt something just get stuck in my leg rope, and I was kicking trying to get it away,” he told Fox Sports.
“I just saw fins. I was waiting for the teeth.”
Mick Fanning said he was able to “get a punch into its back” and startle the shark.
The World Surf League (WSL), which organized the J-Bay Open, said two shark were seen in the water near Mick Fanning and another competitor, Julian Wilson, also from Australia.
The two surfers are rivals but also friends and Julian Wilson paddled towards Mick Fanning to help him.
Julian Wilson was emotional afterwards telling the Sydney Morning Herald that he felt as if he couldn’t get to Mick Fanning quickly enough.
“It came up and he was wrestling it, and I saw he got knocked off his board,” the surfer said.
“I was like, <<I’ve got a board, if I can get there I can stab it or whatever, I’ve got a weapon>>.”
Julian Wilson’s mother was also watching on TV and told reporters: “I don’t know if he’s crazy or a hero.”
The commentators said it was the first time they had seen a shark attack a competitor during an event, according to the Herald. The WSL cancelled the tournament after the incident.
“Mick’s composure and quick acting in the face of a terrifying situation was nothing short of heroic and the rapid response of our Water Safety personnel was commendable,” it said in a statement.
Reuters says the waters are some of the most shark-infested in the world, and that a surfer was killed by a Great White shark close to Jeffreys Bay in 2013.