Remember the time Slipknot tried to sue Burger King over a Chicken Fries ad?

A scene from Burger King's Coq Roq TV ad
(Image credit: Burger King)

Cast your minds back to 2005, and you’ll remember that Slipknot were nearing the end of their 233-date The Subliminal Verses World Tour. 

Meanwhile, Los Angeles punks The Bronx were working on their second self-titled album with producer Michael Beinhorn and one-time Guns N’ Roses guitarist Gilby Clarke. 

Two bands working hard. Nothing unusual there, but here’s where things become a little surreal. 

While The Bronx were in the studio, a representative for Burger King approached the band with a view to writing a song for an advertising campaign to promote their new product Chicken Fries. The band would also appear in a filmed advertisement, but wearing costumes. No-one would know it was them and they stood to earn an estimated $120,000 for their efforts. Not chicken feed, by any stretch of the imagination. But, punks being punks, they turned the corporate offer down and continued making their album. 

That summer, the Chicken Fries advertising campaign was launched and the four-minute clip features a “band” called Coq Roq, notable for their creepy chicken masks, greasy rock riffs and an audience with an insatiable hunger for poultry-based snacks. We’re all peckish after a couple of gig beers, right?

Watch the ad below:

While Slipknot’s appearance was prone to sometimes drastic changes with each album campaign, they took exception to the advert. Hell bent for feather, you might say.

And on August 4, 2005, a letter was issued by a law firm representing the band, claiming that Burger King’s promotional campaign was infringing on the Iowa nonet’s distinctive look.

“Within the last several weeks, Burger King launched an advertising campaign designed and produced by Crispin Porter & Bogusky (“CPB”),” read a letter from the band’s legal representatives. “The advertising campaign is called Coq Roq. Apparently Burger King and CPB have created a heavy metal “band” called Coq Roq featuring band members who wear chicken heads and horror masks.

“All of this is apparently designed to promote the new Burger King product, Chicken Fries," the letter continued. "It is obvious that the television advertising and website are designed to conjure up the image and persona of a live performance of Slipknot. In addition to capturing the flavour and high energy intensity of a Slipknot performance, the members of Coq Roq wear a gas mask as worn by Slipknot’s Sid Wilson, a kabuki style mask as worn by Slipknot’s Joey Jordison, and a mask with dreads as worn by Slipknot’s Cory (sic) Taylor.”

Burger King’s lawyer’s responded to the claim by saying that many bands in the rock and metal world "wear masks and/or make-up to accomplish a mask-like effect, including but not limited to the bands KISS, Gwar, Insane Clown Posse, Mushroomhead, Mudvayne, Marilyn Manson, Los Straitjackets, and the Spits.”

Both sides decided to drop their lawsuits and Coq Roq quickly found themselves residing in the ‘Where Are They Now?’ file. 

People = Chick, anyone?

Simon Young

Born in 1976 in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Simon Young has been a music journalist for over twenty years. His fanzine, Hit A Guy With Glasses, enjoyed a one-issue run before he secured a job at Kerrang! in 1999. His writing has also appeared in Classic RockMetal HammerProg, and Planet Rock. His first book, So Much For The 30 Year Plan: Therapy? — The Authorised Biography is available via Jawbone Press.