How KFC Turned a Chicken Shortage into a Savvy Marketing Campaign

It's not every day a company can turn a chaotic downturn in events into one of the most memorable marketing campaigns, but KFC managed just that.
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Back in early 2018, those heading down to grab a bite to eat from KFC were left scratching their heads when they found the restaurant was closed. What’s the worst thing that a chicken restaurant could run out of? Chicken! But that’s exactly what happened when KFC faced a nationwide shortage of the main ingredient on their menu.

Whilst this massive cock-up (pun intended) caused chaos for the fast-food chain, it did produce one of the best marketing campaigns we’ve seen in a while.

The shortage that was caused by logistical issues with a new delivery partner, could have spelled disaster for the brand. Instead, KFC took a bold and unconventional approach to address the situation, turning it into a memorable and highly successful marketing campaign.

Rather than shy away from the issue, KFC confronted it head-on with a series of witty and playful advertisements that acknowledged the chicken shortage while reassuring customers that the situation was being resolved.

The standout campaign, which was published in newspapers, featured a KFC bargain bucket, with the letters jumbled up to spell ”FCK”. It captured the attention of customers and the media and started to go viral on social media. It was a perfect demonstration of KFC’s willingness to own up to the mistake with not only humour but humility.

“FCK” print ad KFC used in newspapers to address the issue

Recognising the importance of transparent communication in times of crisis, KFC used their social media platforms to keep customers informed and engaged throughout the ordeal. The brand’s clever use of humour and wit in its posts not only helped to defuse tensions but also fostered a sense of camaraderie and solidarity among fans of the brand.

KFC’s light-hearted approach to handling the situation was also used on digital channels

Despite the initial setback, KFC’s handling of the chicken shortage ultimately proved to be a masterclass in crisis management and marketing. By acknowledging the problem, communicating openly with customers, and injecting humour into the situation, KFC not only avoided the negative impact of the shortage but produced one of the best marketing campaigns in some time.

The campaign helped to reinforce KFC’s lighthearted but authentic branded identity and also helped strengthen the relationship with its customers by handling the mishap in a proactive manner.

In summary, it just goes to show, that even if faced with a potentially brand-damaging scenario, a considered approach from a marketing and PR department can help to fix it and put things right. In this case, it’s a shining example of how KFC turned a negative experience into an opportunity through creativity, transparency, and a healthy dose of humour.

KFC, anyone?

With thanks to KFC for the images

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