Way back in the “early oughts”, Pepsico / Tricon (now known as Yum!) employed Jason “george costanza” Alexander to make the pitch that Kentucky FRIED Chicken was diet food. It was attacked as a stupid outrageous advertising campaign and was quietly shelved.
But just because a stupid idea didn’t work doesn’t mean the same company can’t try it again a few years later.
Here in 2010, Yum! is trying to get me to go on the Taco Bell Drive-Thru Diet. The most striking thing is how the disclaimers outweigh the copy on the ads. It’s like talking to Mr. Subliminal:
- Try the Taco Bell Drive-Thru Diet! (not a weight loss plan)
- I lost weight! (results are not typical)
- Fresco is a healthier choice! (not a low calorie food.)
Rule of thumb: If you have more in the disclaimer than in the ad, then maybe it’s not a great promotion idea.
Companies almost always have cricks in their necks from looking at what the competition is doing. I’m sure Yum! thought they had found their Subway Jared when they found the face of the Drive-Thru Diet, Christine, who said she lost 54 pounds by eating at Taco Bell.
But healthy is a part of the Subway brand. If a major part of your normal promotional campaigns involve trying to get people to eat another “Fourth Meal” or getting customers to add more nacho cheese, then you should stay away from the words “diet” and “healthy“.
A consistent long-term brand image that consumers can identify with (even if it’s unhealthy) is more important that a New Years resolution inspired revenue bump in Q1. Pick a strategy and go with it. You can’t have your nachos and eat them too.
You know, it looks like businesses would learn from other companies’ mistakes.
After several big corporations failing to deliver with large scale national freebie giveaways in the last few months, KFC decided to fail larger than anyone with its free grilled chicken giveaway.
Actually, I fully expected KFC to mess this up as soon as I heard they were doing it. (The Colonel has been spinning in his grave for awhile.) But the extent that they have managed to tick off customers and hurt the brand would even impress John Y.
There are reports of KFCs running out of food, local KFC managers refusing to accept the coupon/vouchers, and more.
The Gothamist even had a report of a sit-in/riot at a KFC in NYC…
I went over to our nearest KFC a few minutes ago…and chaos ensued. Despite the very visible grilled chicken behind the register, the manager told everyone with coupons to leave and that the promotion was over for the day. The people there are currently holding a sit-in and refusing to leave until they get their free chicken…or the cops are called. Racial epithets were being spewed, people who actually wanted to pay for chicken were facing a potential beatdown, and the manager ran from the screaming horde. Oprah, what have ye wrought?
There are lessons for all marketers here:
–If you’re doing a mass giveaway through an online channel, you must anticipate the fact that you’ll need additional resources. The first wave of customers getting ticked off wasn’t redeeming these things — it was trying to access and print them online.
–Sampling of a new product is fine. Do it on a local level. This was too much to too many people.
–COMMUNICATION between the marketers and the people on the front lines has to be crystal clear. There also has to be buy-in from the people on the ground. Most of these problems for KFC are coming from individual franchisees (because they’re getting the short end of the stick / chicken bone here)
–When you’re doing a large promotion, think of the worst case scenario and come up with a response before you launch it. Is there a decent probability that your worst case scenario may happen? Don’t do the promotion.
–If you’re going to involve Oprah, expect large results.
–With free food, always expect a mob mentality. It’s a primal need that’s way down in the subconscious.
KFC had already decided to hurt their brand with this extension anyway, even before the problems. (kentucky FRIED chicken shouldn’t be serving GRILLED chicken)
I’m more interested in seeing if this will hurt the Oprah brand — and I think it will.
I know I said that I wouldn’t be commenting on Super Bowl ads. But these two ads are like a fetish car wreck. They’re so bizarre and twisted that I can’t look away. Apparently, both were rejected by Fox (*Fox has standards!) for the Super Bowl. And it’s easy to see why.
Not only did the Colonel get messed over by John Y, now he’s the scorn of those happy-go-lucky souls over at PETA.
Mmmm, now for the finger lickin goodness… (The second one is weirder than the first … if that’s even possible)
KFC has gone the way of the ad gimmick like GE’s Tivo commericals. They’ve inserted a high pitched sound in a spot that supposedly only young ears can hear. It’s the same high pitched frequency used in teen repellent. See the spot here…
That high pitched sound? It’s just the blood trying to squeeze through your blocked artery.
You’re an agency and you’ve just landed the Orville Redenbacher popcorn account. During the brainstorm session, someone says “Let’s have Orville Redenbacher in the spots!” Don’t let the fact that he died 11 years ago stop you.
CP+B apparently aren’t content with just having the Burger King creep you out while watching the teevee. Now they’ve re-animated Orville Redenbacher.
Yes. Re-animated. They’re using “cutting edge technology” to stick him in the spots. Apparently, it’s the same technology Andrew McCarthy used in “Weekend at Bernies”
There’s a backlash…and here…and here…and here…and basically all over.
Using a “real” person as the core of your brand will eventually hurt you….because while the company may live forever…people don’t.
The company that has pulled off a “re-animation” is Kentucky Fried Chicken. While John Y Brown milked The Colonel for all he was worth while he was alive…Pepsico, Tricon, Yum!, etc really used him up. The cartoon-hipster-Randy-Quaidish Colonel image is nothing like Harland.
And that’s eventually what will happen to Orville Redenbacher…and Dave Thomas….and Dr. Z…oh…wait.