Where the FCK Are My Chicken?


Lessons from the crisis PR at KFC

If DHL has failed to fail to deliver chicken to KFC’s restaurant chain in the United Kingdom, the KFC marketers should have invented the story themselves. The UK’s division of the U.S.-based food giant experienced unprecedented interest in their service and the company as whole got unparalleled media coverage due to, well, lack of chicken in their chicken restaurants.

The cause of the problem is simple – logistics issues occurred after KFC have changed their supplier Bidvest to DHL. Which in turn caused insufficiencies all over the supply chain and hence closed KFC facilities all over the UK.

When the storm hits

Apparently, the folk at the KFC headquarters are keeping a good eye on the news and media coverage about the company. Why? Because they made the smartest move in the book. After analyzing the media reaction to the closure of a large number of their restaurants and witnessing a storm of comments on social media, they decided to apologize.

They could have opted for blaming their new supplier, DHL, for all the mess. They did not do that. Instead, they followed the major trend in the comments they have collected their using social media monitoring tools. And the name of this trend is: “What the heck is going on with KFC.”

You should also be aware that a good number of KFC clients even called the police to investigate the situation, which in turn caused the police to issue a statement that it is none of their business to check why a private restaurant is not serving meals. In other words, the lack of chicken wrecked a perfect business operations havoc.

What the heck …

So, KFC issued a paid ad on a full page that says a big “FCK”. Which, as we said, was, in fact, the only working move for the company to both apologize and create enormous buzz around its name on both traditional and social media.

It is hard to know how exactly the decision for this full-page ad was taken at KFC. Nonetheless, the logic of the campaign follows previous experiences where such tactics worked.

Back in 2017, KFC Canada decided to mark Canada’s 150th birthday by changing their name to “K’ehFC” for the summer of 2017. By tracking news coverage and monitoring comments on social media, they have learned this earns them a lot of positive reactions. So, they had a ready-to-implement action plan before they eyes. KFC’s board should say a big thanks to their marketing people for looking back at their Canada campaign and proposing a similar solution in times of crisis. Adding a grain of humor by starting the ad with: “A chicken restaurant without any chicken. It’s not ideal.”, only makes the apology even more memorable.

After the storm

A day later, KFC went on to post a message on Twitter using the same relaxed style.

KFC have realized their crisis campaign is working and decided to follow suit by developing the story about a chicken restaurant without any chicken. How do they decide on that? By being armed with media monitoring tools enabling their marketers and copywriters to track how the story develops on online channels in real time. It is all about online comments and consumer sentiment these days, for good or for bad.

Look at the figures below.


Source: StatShow

The data shows booming pick of traffic to the local site of KFC, which moved the website www.kfc.co.uk more than 10,000 positions up in the rankings within a few days. A digital marketer’s dream comes true.

Nonetheless, the main lessons from the crisis at KFC are that you should pay very close attention to consumer reactions and not try to reverse the consumer mood by blaming external factors for your failures. Just carefully analyze the flow of comments on all available channels and craft a message that would resonate with most of them in a relaxing way. The “FCK” campaign did exactly that.

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