KFC could bring some fried festivities to your town this season

By David Kiefaber on Fri Dec 10 2010


Not content with writing sandwich names on college girls' butts or dangling scholarship money in front of high-school tweeters, KFC is heading to the streets to promote its 12-piece Festive Feast meal. They've picked Dec. 21, the gloomiest day of the year, to distribute mini-buckets full of gift cards around whichever city deserves it the most—that will be determined by fans writing in to explain (in 300 words or less) why they deserve a visit from Colonel Santa. You might win your town $20,000 (that seems to be a magic number for KFC) in prizes. There's even a "So Good" Santa who will give out the prizes—he's a Colonel Sanders look-alike who will be dressed as Santa, so he'll wind up sorta looking like this. It's nice that KFC is putting so much effort into this marketing stunt, but they'll need to change up their requirements pretty soon. We can only petition our benevolent overlords for handouts so often before the novelty wears off.

KFC offers $20,000 in college money to best high-school tweeter

By David Kiefaber on Thu Nov 18 2010


I've never considered KFC an institution that values learning (they're barely an institution that values food), but they must think differently. After all, they're offering a $20,000 Colonel's Scholars scholarship to the high-school senior who tweets the most compelling case for deserving it. The 140-character limit includes the #KFCScholar hashtag, by the way. The winner, who must be a high-school senior with a minimum 2.75 GPA, will get up to $5,000 a year to put toward an accredited public university in their home state. That more or less amounts to free college, unless the winner lives in California. KFC isn't the first organization to give away college money through Twitter—CollegeScholarships.org introduced a tweet-based award last year—but it's hard to measure creativity, need and drive (KFC's three required elements) in 140 characters. In fact, one could surmise that winning the scholarship would have more to do with dumb luck than actual merit. Still, if you're going to enter this contest, telling them how much you love their food probably won't help you. You'll be better off telling them how good you'll look in those Double Down sweatpants.

KFC locates more college girls' butts for Double Down promotion

By T.L. Stanley on Tue Oct 12 2010


Eat a fat-, salt- and calorie-ridden Double Down, and it'll end up directly on your rear end. Is that the message of KFC's just-expanded college marketing campaign? Nah, just my interpretation. The real reason the marketer is hiring more cute co-eds to wear sweatpants with "Double Down" stamped on the posterior is that heavy fast-food users—and likely Double Down heart-attack candidates—are guys who spend inordinate amounts of time staring at girls' butts. So base. So brilliant! The campaign, which AdFreak covered previously, is moving on to Indiana University, Colorado State and James Madison University, where young women will get $500 to hand out KFC coupons while using their backsides as walking advertisements. Some 600 women applied for the job through the marketer's Facebook page, even though a branding expert has said it makes KFC look like "the Hooters of fast food." So, is this just another demeaning brick in the wall, or will it be a B-school case study in the power of bad PR?

KFC franchisees clucking mad about the 'Unthink' ad campaign

By T.L. Stanley on Tue Aug 17 2010


It's the chain that brought you the Double Down, that bunless bacon, cheese and fried-chicken monstrosity, 10 million of which were gobbled up within a few months of its launch this year. Now, KFC is bringing us another controversy of the caloric kind. Franchisees are so unhappy with declining sales and the way the Yum! Brands chain is being run, they've sued corporate to get control of the advertising and hired their own marketing consultant (ex-McDonald's honcho Larry Light) to help them get their message out locally. And that message invariably centers on fried chicken. The emphasis from management, though, has been on how to "Unthink KFC" and focus on the grilled chicken that's supposed to be less of a heart stopper. Here's what one franchisee thinks about it: "They hire marketing guys with blue blazers who tell us what to do with our damn stores. But it's one thing to be behind the big mahogany desk calling the shots and another to be down here in the trenches." The customer likes his grease, y'all, and "doesn't give a damn how many calories are in it," another franchisee tells BusinessWeek. So much for that lower-calorie choice—an internal survey of 642 franchisees found that more than half of the grilled chicken gets tossed in the trash because consumers don't buy it. Read more about the ruffled feathers here (those franchisees sure are a colorful lot), and remember the Colonel's Original Recipe has a birthday coming up. Drumsticks all around!

KFC offering free food in exchange for your World Cup vuvuzela

By Elena Malykhina on Tue Jul 13 2010


The World Cup has come to an end. Some are celebrating Spain's victory, others are mourning the Netherlands defeat, but most are just wondering what to do with their vuvuzelas. KFC has come up with a solution for the latter. The fast-food chain has kicked off a "Vuvuzela Exchange Program," which urges soccer fans to mail in their noisemakers. The first 500 people to do so by July 15 will receive a gift check for a KFC Doublicious sandwich. KFC says its goal is to cheer up bummed-out fans with some free comfort food. Of course, it's also a smart way to drive traffic to restaurants. My question is: What will KFC do with all those vuvuzelas? Anyway, here's the address:

KFC Corporate Headquarters
Attention: Vuvuzela Exchange Program
1900 Colonel Sanders Lane
Louisville, KY 40213

KFC embraces user-generated content with some horrific results

By David Kiefaber on Fri Jul 9 2010

KFC's Facebook feed yielded this gem, a presumably fan-made parody of  the Double Rainbow Song that pays tribute to KFC's repulsive Double Down sandwich. Stealing ideas from Internet memes rarely works, because the lifespan of an Internet joke is usually pretty short; the reference is dated almost the very second it's made. And that's if the creators stumble upon a meme that isn't already played out and stale by the time they riff on it. Which brings us to the trouble with KFC's video—it's annoying and goes on for too long, and anyone who doesn't get what it's referring to will hate it. People who do get it probably won't care, and honestly the video's comments are more impressed with the KFC/Taco Bell combination than the video itself. I get that KFC wants to enhance their brand with user-generated content—so does everyone else—but a little quality control will go a long way. Celebrating this crap just makes them look bad, and they don't need any more help in that department.

KFC extends life of Double Down, shortening that of customers

Posted on Wed May 19 2010


When KFC introduced its bun-less Double Down sandwich in spot markets last year, bloggers and the lamestream media roasted it as as the gustatory equivalent of the Pontiac Aztek. But who's laughing now? KFC announced today that it has sold 10 million Double Downs so far, and the chain has decided to keep it around beyond its originally proposed yank date of May 23. "This is truly an example of 'popular demand,' " Javier Benito, evp of marketing and food innovation at KFC, said in a written statement. "Our plans were to feature the product only through May 23, but millions of Double Down fans have spoken, and we won't disappoint them. You'll continue to be able to get the Double Down at KFC this summer." For all the hue and cry over the sandwich's purported artery-clogging properties, KFC also points out that the DD contains just 540 calories, or 460 for the grilled version.

—Posted by Todd Wasserman

Painter looks at American fast food in the Middle East landscape

Posted on Fri Apr 30 2010


It's been 48 years since Andy Warhol demonstrated that an ordinary American food brand could be worth thinking about other than when you're hungry. Now, Eric Robert Parnes is up to much the same thing, albeit with work that's a bit more provocative than a can of Campbell's Condensed Tomato Soup.
  In his paintings, Parnes, a 31-year-old Iranian American artist, portrays brands like McDonald's, KFC and Starbucks open for business in Middle Eastern countries. Each of his canvases features a group of women in chadors, their backs turned, regarding the fast-food outlets with thoughts that are anyone's guess. Parnes—whose far-ranging work also includes gold-leafed artillery helmets and nudes equipped with gas masks—says his intent was not to be critical of American fast food's presence in Muslim countries but to "explore … the dynamics involving Western and Eastern cultures." And for better or worse, Western "culture" these days usually means fast food.
  "Aside from the American flag, people identify the United States via our products' visual logos," Parnes tells BrandFreak. "These brands have become visual representations that elicit an immediate response of recognition. It really doesn't even matter that Domino's or Starbucks is spelled out in another language. All we need is a logo to recognize the company."
  So, good news for all you fast-food marketers out there: Your logo works just as well in Riyadh as it does in Rochester.

—Posted by Robert Klara


KFC prepares to kill you with its Double Down chicken sandwich

Posted on Tue Apr 6 2010


Ah, finally. Next week, KFC begins selling its new "bunless" Double Down chicken sandwich. The Colonel's latest menu item consists of "two melted slices of Monterey jack and pepper jack cheese and Colonel's Sauce" sandwiched between two "juicy, boneless white-meat chicken filets." (Choose from original or grilled, which contain 540 and 460 calories, respectively.) The launch follows much consumer buzz and hype about the product since its test introduction in two markets last year. To emphasize the "bunless" aspect, KFC is also donating "unneeded" buns to U.S. food banks. Mm-hm. Cause marketing plus a sandwich with fewer carbs? How can we resist?

—Posted by Elaine Wong

KFC's United Nations stunt, which sucked, somehow got worse

Posted on Fri Oct 30 2009


There's viral marketing, and then there's being a dick. And KFC seems to have crossed the line. As previously reported here, the chicken chain sent a tongue-in-cheek letter to the United Nations Secretary General asking that "Grilled Nation" get a seat at the organization's table. OK. Ha ha. But now we learn that KFC has taken the joke a step further. An actor dressed as the late Col. Sanders somehow got into the U.N. this week and shook hands with Ali Treki, the new president of the General Assembly. The U.N. is now investigating how the man breached several layers of security to get in. If buzz was the goal, KFC has clearly got it through this stunt, but this Borat-style marketing is frankly embarrassing. Then again, maybe it's not KFC's fault. Rep Laurie Schalow, speaking to Slashfood,  blamed a confluence of events for the Colonel's appearance. "The KFC Colonel was in New York City for a Kentucky Grilled Chicken sampling event outside the United Nations," she said. "While serving free chicken on First Avenue, he was invited inside by a U.N. staff member, along with a photographer who was documenting the event." Added Schalow: "KFC has the utmost respect for the United Nations, and this lighthearted event in New York City was in no way meant to undermine the important work that the U.N. does around the world."

—Posted by Todd Wasserman



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