KFC Adds Star Power To 'Hitmaker' Contest

Hit Maker/KFC

KFC is looking to add some star power to the third go-around of its "Hitmaker" song contest, adding MC Lyte and David Banner as judges of song entries in the promotion.

"As the program has grown, it adds that extra layer of excitement to the contest," Jermaine Higgins, KFC's manager of multicultural marketing, tells Marketing Daily of the additions. "MC Lyte and David Banner are two of the most respected artists in urban music, and they also stand out for their commitment to the community."

Through the promotion, aspiring musicians can submit songs for the chance to be featured on a CD reflecting KFC's Pride 360 community outreach program. The entries, which Lyte and Banner will judge, must express Pride 360's themes of Individual, Family, Community and Heritage. The top songs will be on KFC's Hitmaker Web site ( and will be available for download as mobile ringtones (with proceeds going to Banner's Heal the Hood organization, which supports victims of hurricanes Katrina and Rita).



The contest, now in its third year, has grown considerably since its inception three years ago -- and bringing in Banner and Lyte lends it further credibility, Higgins says. "Going from myself [as a judge] to finding artists and legends like this, it's driving entries," he says. "It helps KFC look cooler and allows them to speak to a younger, hipper consumer than it had been able to do in the past."

Last year, the Hitmaker contest received 300% more entries than it did during its inaugural run, thanks to wider promotion in-store, online and through e-mail marketing. This year's contest will employ the same tactics, as well as tapping into the new judges' fan bases, Higgins says. "That's a big piece as well, through their Web sites," he says.

In a separate promotion, KFC over the weekend will turn the Big Ten Mart in Davenport, Iowa along I-80 into a "KFC Filling Station" to promote its new $5 Fill-Up Box meals. Through the promotion, patrons of the station can pay $5 for up to 15 gallons of gas and receive a gift check for a $5 Fill-Up Box.

"Colonel Sanders was no stranger to the gas pump," said Javier Benito, KFC executive vice president of marketing and food innovation, in a statement. "In 1930, the Colonel opened his first restaurant in the small front room of a gas station in Corbin, Kentucky, which he named 'Sanders Court & Cafe.' It was there he perfected his secret blend of 11 herbs and spices and started serving his Original Recipe to road-weary travelers."

Consumers not traveling to or near Davenport over the holiday weekend can enter an online sweepstakes for a chance to win gas cards or gift checks.

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