SYDNEY - Australian surf champion Mick Fanning's battle with a huge great white shark has been spoofed by Kentucky Fried Chicken for a new advert in South Africa, sparking stinging criticism from his family Monday.
The 34-year-old three-time world champion made global headlines when he dramatically escaped the shark on live television during a tour event at Jeffreys Bay off South Africa's Eastern Cape province in mid-July.
He survived the terrifying encounter unscathed and is now back competing.
But the fast food chain's decision to show a lookalike re-enacting the scene, then twirling a computer-generated shark above his head as he rides the perfect wave, to market a new product, has not gone down well with his family.
"I think it is very disrespectful," his mother Elizabeth Osborne told Fairfax Media.
"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.
"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 added that the World Surf League was preparing to take legal action against KFC to have the campaign cut short.
"Their lawyers were getting in touch with KFC to get it off (the air)," she said.
KFC Australia distanced itself from its South African counterpart, saying it was not the type of commercial it would run.
"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," a spokesperson said in a statement to AFP.