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KFC Craves Finger-Lickin’ Hate

So KFC (formerly known as Kentucky Fried Chicken, for those keeping score with the brand’s history) reintroduced a live-action Colonel Sanders not long ago. The first salvo of TV spots starring SNL alum Darrell Hammond were especially cringe-worthy and forgettable. In a fun-if-not-entirely-original move, they’ve already sacked the first actor and replaced him with another SNL-alum-cringe-specialist Norm Macdonald, whose shoulder shrug seems to mean he’s all too aware that he’s a character in on the joke. But the campaign, which this writer describes as, “Bad but not bad enough,” isn’t as important as the support from above.

“So far the response has been about 80 percent positive, 20 percent hate it,” says Greg Creed, CEO of KFC’s parent company YUM! Brands. “I am actually quite happy that 20 percent hate it, because now they at least have an opinion. They’re actually talking about KFC, and you can market to love and hate; you cannot market to indifference.”

He’s right; I hate it enough to dedicate a column to it. Its screwball isn’t screwy enough. The actor switch came too soon. Fried chicken is impossibly impractical in a smartphone age.

But I love that the higher-ups love the hate. It fuels an opinion. Playing within the lines, being offensively inoffensive, is the fastest way to evoke a languid roll of the eyes. If the campaign was less Original Recipe and had a more segmented spice, I’d argue that an 80 hate/20 love split would be even more favorable. Secure your base, appease your acolytes, and let them carry your banner. Indifference is death: notice the lack of #HowDoYouKFC, if you ever noticed in the first place.

~ Chase Cambria, Jr. Copywriter, The S3 Agency


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