Behind KFC's Marketing Meltdown

How does a TV ad blitz and an Oprah endorsement result in a brand nightmare?
By Clay Dillow,  Newser Staff
Posted May 11, 2009 11:08 AM CDT
A sign at the front counter in the Kentucky Fried Chicken in Indianapolis promotes the new grilled chicken that is being offered to customers Friday, March 21, 2008.   (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
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(Newser) – How to engineer a marketing disaster: Make offer, rescind offer, turn away hungry customers. Kentucky Fried Chicken’s grilled-chicken promotion was to be the largest launch in the chain’s history but turned out to be a promotional nightmare, Advertising Age reports in a look at how a massive TV ad campaign and an Oprah tie-in has led to increased negative feelings toward KFC’s brand. How does one bungle something as simple as grilled chicken?

KFC’s offer made the brand the No. 1 Topic on Twitter by last Wednesday, but by Friday, the day after the offer was pulled, negative mentions on the Web shot up 33%, while the 89% positive mentions of the day before evaporated. Says one ad exec: “KFC did more damage to its brand by running an incomplete promotion than if they had just not launched the campaign in the first place."