KFC pokes fun at itself for ‘badly timed’ menu development

I Love You bacon burger

KFC’s marketing team has come up trumps again with an ad campaign for a new bacon burger launch that pokes fun at the chain’s “bad timing”.

Last year it won plaudits for taking out full-page advertisements in national newspapers notifying customers it was changing its fries following accusations that “no one likes them”.

And now it’s adopted the same irreverent approach to publicise the latest addition to its menu that will be rolled out across its 900 UK stores.

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Urging customers to ‘try one before you turn vegan’, the company states: “Let’s be frank – we’ve timed this burger badly. It’s coming out during a time when unprecedented numbers of people are eschewing meat, and embracing the aubergine. There’s every chance you yourself, if not already vegan, are seriously considering it. If so, we can’t guarantee that the I Love You Bacon Burger’s creamy Baconnaise, sticky Bacon Lovers’ Relish and smoked back bacon will change your mind.”

It adds: “It might be the worst possible point in history to launch this burger. But bad timing never tasted so good.”

KFC’s self-mockery is all part of a strategy that the company has adopted more recently to improve customer engagement and make the brand more welcoming.

During the chicken shortage that closed many of its stores last year, it was praised for the way it used social media to acknowledge its problems and keep customers informed.

Speaking at the Lunch! Show last year, KFC’s innovation director for the UK and Ireland, Jack Hinchliffe, described how the company is deploying more unorthodox marketing techniques to dispel some of the myths that surround its food and cooking processes.

“All our chicken on the bone comes from British farms, it’s Red Tractor standard, delivered fresh – not frozen – to our restaurants and hand-breaded by our cooks in our restaurants and cooked to order. Not many people know that and that’s not for want of trying, it’s about how we can talk about it. So it’s not enough just to say we are going to focus on these areas, it is all about how we do that.”

He said that one step KFC has taken to address this has been to communicate in a “bold and disruptive way that will get people talking”, which prompted it to make what turned out to be the “most complained-about advert last year”. It has since had nearly 800,000 views on YouTube (below).

“Some people love it, and some people hate it, and some people are genuinely offended by it, but the truth is the conversation people are having is about KFC and chickens. And the biggest anxiety our consumers actually have isn’t that our chicken is fresh, that it’s Red Tractor or that it is hand-breaded in the restaurants, but that we have two-headed chickens, or mutant chickens, and all of these myths that are out there!

“So our job wasn’t to shine a spotlight on the good that we do but rather just address some of the issues. Our chickens are real chickens – some people may not like what we do, but that’s ok, that’s what we do – we cook and serve chicken.”

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Andrew Seymour

The author Andrew Seymour

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