As early as next week, KFC will be able to legitimately claim that its Zinger sandwich is out of this world.
The fast-food chain is sending one of its spicy chicken sandwiches to the edge of the atmosphere via a stratospheric balloon. The four-day mission will be the longest controlled stratospheric balloon flight with a commercial payload and will involve several consumer-facing activities.
Having previously been available in other global markets, KFC brought the Zinger to the United States earlier this year, and has been promoting it via a television commercial in which company brand icon Colonel Sanders (portrayed by actor Rob Lowe) echoes Kennedy’s moon shot proclamation, saying the company is making “spicy, crispy chicken sandwiches … not because it is easy, but because it is hard.” The spot also alludes to sending a sandwich into space. (The space mission idea came from agency Wieden + Kennedy, with additional support from MediaMonks, Mediavest | Spark and Edelman.)
“As we were thinking about it, the challenge was, ‘How do we make this a big deal?’” George Felix, director of advertising for KFC U.S, tells Marketing Daily. “What the colonel would do is something that would get attention.”
The sandwich will take flight in a specially designed satellite bucket that will have the capability to take selfies in space, screen consumer tweets sent using a dedicated hashtag, drop a coupon to Earth and wave a KFC flag, “like any good space explorer,” Felix says. The launch window opens on June 21. Consumers can follow the journey, which will be promoted through digital and social channels, at kfcin.space or www.yesweareactuallysendingachickensandwichto.space.
To pull off the sandwich-in-space milestone, KFC partnered with World View Stratolite, which creates balloons that can execute a variety of flight profiles, including circumnavigating the globe to holding a spot over a specific location. “We’ve got 70 years of experience making chicken, and zero years in space,” Felix says of working with World View. “It was about talking to a lot of partners and figuring out how to pull this thing off.”
In recent years, KFC has executed a number of attention-grabbing promotions, like creating a Colonel Sanders-starring romance novel for Mother’s Day and selling a fried chicken-scented sunscreen for the summer. The idea of sending a Zinger sandwich is more of the same, Felix says.
“We’re constantly trying to do things that are unexpected,” he says. “We’re looking for thinks to keep KFC top-of-mind and are really breakthrough.”