That’s FCKing good: how KFC managed its chicken crisis with a brilliant ad

By Valentina Kristensen

Unless you’ve been deserted on a tropical island with no internet and no contact with the outside world for the last week, it would have been hard to miss the KFC chicken crisis. There have been over 300 articles written about it in the last seven days and it quite literally caused panic, havoc and speaking from personal experience, worse hangovers, across the nation.

It happened on the first day (14th February) that KFC had partnered with their new delivery provider, DHL. On the morning of Valentine’s Day, there was a seven-vehicle collision on the M6 between junctions two and three and later that morning, another collision on junction one. These two collisions led to horrendous traffic which was worsened by the fact that there were planned closures across several lanes that week due to ongoing maintenance.

This wouldn’t have been an issue had it not been for the fact that DHL only has one chicken delivery depot in the UK (as opposed to the six that KFC’s former provider has), and it was located at the heart of this gridlock. The result of this “perfect storm” was DHL lorries being suspended in traffic for hours, leading to a huge backlog of deliveries, and the temporary closure of almost 600 of KFC’s 900 outlets owing to a lack of chicken.

Now anyone who knows me knows that I am a fan of KFC. It’s not like I go there every day or anything but it’s definitely my go-to junk food of choice – so much so that when this happened, I was tagged in no less than 14 posts about it by friends and family. Much like my fellow Londoners, I was sad to hear that I would deprived of the finger-lickin’ goodness for a few days while they got the coop back in order, but all was (pretty much) forgiven when I saw their ad in the Metro last week.

Here’s why I thought it was so great:

Firstly, they apologised

Corporate apologies are fortunately becoming more common these days but they still don’t occur as often as they should. By noting that a chicken restaurant without any chicken is “not ideal” and apologising to their customers, they demonstrated that they take the situation seriously, without taking themselves too seriously.

They were cheeky

What can I say? It worked for French Connection and it works for KFC. By changing the order of these three letters, they made their apology funny, memorable and cheeky.

They didn’t play the blame game

It’s honourable that they didn’t point the finger at DHL or blame the collisions on the M6. They just focused on getting back to business as usual and showed their appreciation to all KFC employees and franchisers who were working to help make that happen.

They chose the right outlets to place the ad

They ran the full-page ad in The Sun and Metro – publications that reach millions of people across the country every day – and that are much more likely to be read by their target audience than, say, the average Financial Times reader…

The ad received praise from a number of news outlets – USA Today, CNN, the Independent, the BBC to name a few, as well as thousands of customers (myself included!) who expressed their delight on Twitter. Well done to creative agency, Mother London, for coming up with it – a great example of thinking on your feet!

Valentina Kristensen is head of comms at OakNorth and chair of the Influence editorial board.

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