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Marketing Kentucky “Grilled” Chicken?

I have been watching the Kentucky Fried Chicken fiasco with great amusement. As you know, they recently launched a huge initiative to introduce “grilled” chicken as a big part of their product line. There is really nothing wrong with that, had they positioned it in a positive way. But they didn’t. Instead they launched with a “Think Unfried” campaign, obliterating decades of credibility in their core business. Sending the message to forget everything we’ve done up until now, fried chicken really isn’t that good.


It’s like the Emperor’s Clothes, or better yet like when Groucho Marx was caught in bed with his friend’s wife he said, “are you going to believe what you see, or what I am about to tell you?” Point. It is the “fried” in Kentucky Fried that consumers love. They would have been better off positioning themselves as the chicken specialists, with “grilled” as an option. What they should have done was trot out an old successful campaign. “We do chicken right”, and offered grilled as a healthy option.

It gets better. They engaged Oprah, a fried chicken “expert” to hawk a giveaway promotion. Short version is that it was a disaster, ignoring every basic rule of sampling and giveaways. Somebody at KGC (just doesn’t sound right) should have just simply copied Denny’s Grand Slam effort. Instead they underestimated demand, couldn’t fulfill, and had to pull the promotion. Customers were K efffffen C angry.

The reason I am writing about this is because the 3-piece extra crispy with mashed potatoes and biscuits has always been on the books as what I would choose as my last meal. I don’t think this is the death knell for “K whatever C”, but there is a lesson to be learned. Stay with what you do best, and if you are forced to go outside your core competency, take your time in formulating your message. KFC had one of the most focused platforms in marketing history. “Original or Crispy. 17 herbs and spices. The Colonels secret recipe”. How do you take something that simple and complicate it?

Marketing. Maybe Pizza Hut should try quiche…people like quiche.


Marketing Kentucky “Grilled” Chicken? was last modified: December 18th, 2014 by J.M. Field Marketing
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