Commentary

Why McDonald's & Burger King Should Follow The Way Of KFC's Colonel

  • by , Op-Ed Contributor, July 10, 2015

With more and more fast food options entering the market, famous fast-food icons are losing market share. KFC, McDonald’s and Burger King have had to make a harder push in 2015 to strengthen consumer confidence and rejuvenate their brand image. That said, most of their newly launched branded video campaigns have left viewers underwhelmed. Still, KFC has risen above the noise and re-engaged its fan base through the rebirth of its original mascot, Colonel Sanders.

McDonald’s has been trying a variety of methods to rebuild its image in the past year, and most recently, has jumped on the mascot bandwagon with its newest campaign, “The Bandit is Back.” McDonald’s brought back the Hamburglar in an attempt to tap into customers’ nostalgia for the brand’s iconic character. So far, this branded video campaign has garnered over 7 million views and around 15,000 Facebook interactions. However, based on viewer commentary, customers seem to be feeling less nostalgic and note that the mascot seems outdated and corny.

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Similar to McDonald’s, Burger King has also been trying to re-engage with its customer base, and released its new video campaign, “Smile,” which featured its mascot, The King. The least successful out of the three brands, this branded video campaign garnered just over 50,000 views since the June 1release date. The $1.49 chicken nugget promotion showcases the nuggets, only giving the mascot a three-second appearance in the ad. Burger King has also strayed from traditional video advertising campaigns by using its mascot at popular events such as the Belmont Stakes and the Mayweather vs. Pacquiao fight, as part of Floyd Mayweather’s entourage. Since Burger King only released one original video, the promotional strategies seem to be more focused on a live version of the mascot instead of online promotion—causing lower viewership numbers.

McDonald’s and Burger King can learn from the recent success of KFC. KFC has brought back “The Colonel” after 21 years, and has been the clear leader of the three brands in terms of viewership. While McDonald’s and Burger King have only included their mascots briefly within each video, KFC has featured the Colonel in a more prominent role as the spokesperson for the brand. So far, KFC’s branded video campaign has generated over 13.8 million views, through 12 different ads, with 16 original videos, five of which were Facebook videos (McDonald’s has only uploaded five mascot-themed videos and Burger King has only released one). Additionally, the buzz from viewers has led to fans uploading 12 additional copies of KFC’s video—showing that promoting videos in a more personal way grabs more viewers’ attention.

KFC’s success also stems from how it brought back its iconic mascot, and pushed out its branded campaigns. KFC has tried to keep the Colonel in a more classic, older look, as opposed to the Hamburglar, who McDonald’s tried to make trendier with a black trench coat, high-top sneakers and a 5 o’clock shadow. KFC also uploaded more content to both YouTube and Facebook, increasing its footprint to capture more views. The brand also made more interactive campaigns beyond just video ads and social media, launching an interactive website with images of Colonel Sanders over the years, and an online game.

For McDonald’s and Burger King to regain the traction in share of attention that KFC has seen, they should start following the way of the Colonel. 

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