Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner…

So. You’re KFC, and you run out of chicken in 500 of your 900 UK locations. Quick: What do you do?

Well, internally, I’m sure you fire some Operations folks. And externally, you have a PR problem to deal with. Because when the world’s biggest chicken joint runs out of chicken, the media has an absolute field day with it.

So you assemble your corporate marketing and communications and PR staff and your ad agency (Mother London), and you discuss an appropriate response. A key question: What’s the right tone to strike?

And somebody in the room has the courage (I’ll sidestep the easy “not a chicken” reference here) to say something like this:

“Look, as Operations/Supply Chain issues go, this is pretty major, and heads should roll. But as PR issues go, this is actually pretty tame. We don’t have a #MeToo or #TimesUp moment here. We don’t have a Chipotle-like health concern. We don’t have, thank God, in-store violence like at a McDonald’s last month.

“Running out of our #1 product is a big deal internally, but actually pretty funny externally. And the world is viewing it not with outrage, but with an SMH chuckle. So, what if we played along? Yes, we need to apologize. But what if the tone of that apology was commensurate with public reaction?”

And so was born a mea culpa with a playful tone (and then some!).

A newspaper print ad that perhaps could never have run in the U.S., but could fly with those naughty Brits.

An ad that somehow, utterly implausibly, made it past the KFC Brand Police (most likely only with the authorization of someone way, way at the top).

An ad that blew up the Internets with approving social media-ites.

And an ad that takes home the crown of Best of 2018 So Far.

And for at least a little while, KFC stands for Kudos For Cheekiness.


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