When our will power becomes weak and we want to indulge in something greasy, we all think of KFC as the provider of delicious fried chicken...but did you ever think of them as PR geniuses?
On Monday, February 19, about 800 of the 900 KFC restaurants in the UK shut down because they literally ran out of chicken. Tragic. For a fast-food company, this is an epic crisis that would upset millions of customers. However, KFC employed yet another comedic and creative campaign in response to this issue.
Wait… do people still read the newspaper?
Many of you know KFC as one of the funny fast-food companies on Twitter. Well guess what, they just so happen to be funny in print too. In response to their chicken shortage, KFC created a full-page print advertisement in British newspapers to apologize for closing hundreds of restaurants. In many crisis situations, companies will publish apologetic or defensive statements to the public, or they will take actions to compensate those affected by the situation. KFC decided to reinstate the traditional print method to carry out their crisis communication plan, a very bold move in a digital era. So next time you disregard the Sunday paper as packing material and window cleaner, you may want to think twice.
When in doubt, make a joke about it!
Keeping their usual sense of humor, their print ad rearranged the “KFC” letters to spell out “FCK” on an empty chicken bucket. The statement went on to say, “A chicken restaurant without any chicken. It’s not ideal.”
They also came out with other advertisements that were posted on a website that had more information on the status of the restaurants. These included comical remarks like, “The chicken crossed the road, just not to our restaurants…” and, “KFC runs out of chicken- you couldn’t make it up.”
Be quick with the facts, slow with the blame.
Throughout this whole fiasco, KFC was very open and transparent about what happened and what they were doing to fix it. They did not try to blame or attack DHL, the supply company for KFC, for the crisis that happened. Instead, they made light of the incident and tried to have fun at their own expense. It takes a lot of confidence to make jokes about your own company, especially when a crisis takes place. In addition to this, they made several remarks to instill confidence in customers that the situation was being taken care of and that they can still trust the company, including “we won’t compromise on quality” and “shout out to our restaurant teams who are working flat out to get us back up and running again." This added credibility to the company and shows that they have the concerns of the customers in mind.
KFC continues to be a leader in the PR field for its creative and funky ways of connecting to their customers. This campaign highlights the effectiveness of using humor to reach the public and ease tensions after a crisis. However, it is still important to keep in mind that these strategies cannot be used for just any crisis. In fact, it should only be used for trivial or less-urgent ones, such as a fast-food company running out of chicken for a few days. KFC understood the nature of their crisis and played off of its irony in a very clever and effective fashion.
Brooklyn Wilson is currently a sophomore at Grand Valley State University studying advertising and public relations. She currently serves as the event and coordinating director for GrandPR and is an active member of the GVSU PRSSA chapter. Her passion for communication and relationship building, in addition to writing, led her to the PR field where she hopes to apply her skills within the health field. In her free time, you can find Brooklyn watching Netflix and going for long walks.