Commentary

Ship And Bones: Where's The Beef?

By now, you’ve no doubt heard about “I just shipped my pants!” It's the viral video hit for K-Mart that has now achieved more than 13 million YouTube views.   

Sure, the taste level is questionable; it’s a decidedly juvenile (say, fourth-grade-level?) way to sell the not- exactly-radically-new retail service of free Internet shipping.

Still, “Ship” brought the troubled K-Mart business into the 21st century, lighting up the Internet in a way that the sad little (non-eco friendly) blue lightbulb icon never could. Advertisers rarely go broke underestimating the potency of an unexpected poop joke.

And speaking of timing, “Ship” happens to be a hail-Mary pass for the agency, DraftFCB, which released the video smack in the middle of a very tough account review.

Has it translated to sales? Who knows. But it got attention, and therefore has surely fostered hundreds of agencies to send their own creative teams back to the drawing boards in search of snaring their own virality-in-a-bottle fame.  

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It’s easy to predict that most results will not achieve “Where’s the Beef?” levels of pop-cultural currency.
Enter “I ate the bones!”

Yup, the scarily witless and embarrassing tagline for the new KFC boneless chicken product appeared in two spots within seconds, it seems, of the K-Mart video hitting the Web.  I couldn’t understand how the turnaround could be so quick, but it turns out the new campaign is also the work of DraftFCB.

Which came first? Is this a chicken-egg scenario?

I’ll spare you the use of the word “bone-headed,” (Okay, not really), but it surprised me that this work got out at all. In the first spot, a family man stands in his kitchen, talking about eating KFC “original recipe” chicken.  (Doesn’t everyone speak that way?)

His little girl repeats “original recipe?” a phrase that just rolls off the tongue. Then she takes a look at the counter, and shouts: “Dad, I think you ate the bones!”

Thus begins an acting tsunami, with the Dad’s difficult three-way reading of “I ate the bones?/ I ate the bones!!/I ate the bones!" monologue.

The second spot shows a younger man in one of the KFC restaurants, talking to his office friends. “I think I ate the bones!” he says, alarmed, looking into an empty box after he announces that he really wolfed his food down.
You guessed it: He soon thunders the same “I ate the bones!” triple-header, a great reading of a really dumb tagline.  

Now, in the bigger picture, it was inevitable that KFC -- famous for its bucket of breasts and thighs, complete with skin and bones -- would unfortunately have to offer up a boneless, (and God knows what else) chicken–tender-like product. The joke is that most millennials, raised on McDonald’s Chicken McNuggets, don’t even know that this form of fowl is born with a bone.

While it makes eating in the car or on the run so much easier -- no messy bones to dispose of -- this boneless chunk variety isn’t any healthier -- at least in the deep-fried version.
 
But really, what a strange way to go about announcing the menu change. It’s all about promoting what you didn’t eat, rather than praising what you did. It also suggests that every time you go to KFC, you’ll possibly need the Heimlich maneuver. Is the ham bone connected to the head bone? Apparently not.

Perhaps the agency was going for “I have smelled the shoes!” Dennis Hopper’s crazed rant on behalf of Nike.
But this iteration gives us all a bone to pick with KFC. It would make much more sense for the actors in the spots to shout, “I have no bones!”

This ship be sinking.
 
 

5 comments about "Ship And Bones: Where's The Beef?".
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  1. Dean Fox from ScreenTwo LLC, April 23, 2013 at 1:53 p.m.

    This ship been sunk already by short attention spans, too many distracting streams of lowest common denominator programming, time wasting apps, and a conveniently maleable population yearning for escape from a lousy economic future and attention-grabbling scare tactics by the politicians and media. As Pogo once said, "We have seen the enemy, and he is us."

  2. George Parker from Parker Consultants, April 24, 2013 at 9:22 a.m.

    Barbara... As I continue to rant on "AdScam" about the current state of the ad biz, with particular emphasis on Draft/FCB and IPG, I am reminded of the scene in "The Hucksters" when the "Soap King" hacks up a mouthful of phlegm and spits it out onto the table... "That's how you get peoples attention" he shouts. I would place "I ship my pants" and "I ate the bones" in the same category. How fitting that they should both come from "The Agency of the Future," as Howard described it at the time of the disastrous merger. To paraphrase Dean/Pogo... "We have seen the future, and it is Draft/FCB!
    Cheers/George "AdScam" Parker

  3. Barbara Lippert from mediapost.com, April 24, 2013 at 10:13 a.m.

    I just heard a third:
    "It's a wrap!" for Dunkin Donuts.

  4. George Parker from Parker Consultants, April 24, 2013 at 12:35 p.m.

    @Dean Fox
    I must say, that's one of the best comments I've seen in ages. You are approaching "Tom Messner" and "Barbara Lippert" status. Obviously, I am too modest to mention the "AdScam" Gold Standard.
    Cheers/George

  5. Tom Messner from BONACCOLTA MESSNER, April 26, 2013 at 3:53 p.m.

    Nameonics without a name.
    This style of mnemoic needs a name, though.

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