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KFC Burned By Grilled Chicken Rollout

  • Ad Age, Monday, May 11, 2009 10:45 AM
KFC's grilled-chicken launch managed to strain relationships with three core constituents -- consumers, the media and franchisees -- writes Emily Bryson York, and turned into a marketing fiasco right up there will all-time classics like New Coke and the McDonald's Beanie Babies giveaway. To begin with, the creative -- "Unthink KFC" -- is not only underwhelming, it also seems to undermine the No. 1 product, fried chicken.

Then KFC's Oprah-fueled promotional giveaway that seems to have caught franchisees off guard led to NPR calling the marketer "the James Frey of fast food," referring to the author of a memoir praised by Winfrey that was later exposed as fiction.

KFC did not call in a crises firm, but has been battling the negative perception of blogs and the press following its termination of the promotion on Thursday. KFC president Roger Eaton, for example, appeared on Winfrey's show May 9 and offered this spin: "We had very big projection numbers on this, but not in our wildest imagination could we believe the response we've gotten .... But, in fact, it's been so big, it's been overwhelming."

A sidebar offers six tips on "how to hold an orderly giveaway."



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