Monday, May 11, 2009

The KFC Blunder

What can we learn from the recent KFC Free Grilled Chicken failed promotion?

If you haven't heard, KFC in cooperation with Oprah Winfrey offered two free pieces of their all new grilled chicken, two sides and a biscuit. KFC was overwhelmed and pulled the plug on the promotion because they couldn't meet the demand.

Read about it here.

The KFC brand is now experiencing a brand backlash. Many coupon holders were unable to redeem their FREE offer.

And to make matters worse, KFC's president has gone on You Tube to offer an apology further damaging the brand.

Eaton says "Everyone wants to get the great taste of our new product, so we can't redeem your free coupon at this time."

What? You offer me a FREE coupon, then you can't redeem it? What knuckle brain came up with that?

Brand watchers say that this little stunt has negatively affected KFC's brand.

I say there are several lessons we can learn from this act of marketing lunacy.

Lesson #1: Don't offer something you can't fulfill. While some in my immediate circle think this was a well orchestrated ploy, I respectfully disagree. This was a bungled promotion that was not well planned or executed.

Lesson #2: Make sure everyone is on the same page. I heard from one of my colleagues who went into a KFC last week during the promotion. He said the KFC employees were getting short with customers. They were not all familiar with the workings of the promotion. Frustration ran rampant among customers and employees.

Lesson #3: Don't underestimate the power of social media. KFC projected response based on Oprah Winfrey's audience numbers. They did not anticipate the viral effect that social media can have on an attractive advertising offer. Advertising today is not like advertising was years ago. You have to account for the viral effect.

I'm sure there are many other lessons that we'll glean over time and this will undoubtedly become a marketing case study to be studied along the lines of New Coke for years to come.

I'm reminded of what one of my colleagues said this morning, "Anyone can give it away."

Will KFC's new product roll-out survive this stunt? Time will only tell.

All in all, I think this was a good idea but it was poorly executed.

Do you agree or disagree? What say you?


Nomad said...

for that final "Raincheck" verdict, it sounds like KFC is banking on the fact that people hate filling out forms and therefore won't do it

Anonymous said...

"I think if KFC would have used bar code coupons (similar to sports tickets you purchase on line) that could only be used once and thus could not be photo copied, it could have been a huge success with out all the cheating that forced them stop. Side note: Doesn't it seem freaky to have a British guy as their CEO? (hmm... Kentucky Foreign Chicken?) Maybe they should have brought back or invented a new Colonel Sanders for this one!" Mike Blakemore, PD, 104.7 the Fish