KFC is a cysts on the ass of American culture…

OK, I apologize for the graphic language, but we should all be reminded of the enormous role KFC and all the YUM! Brands continue to play in the perpetuation of gluttony and unhealithness around the world.  And, as much as I hate the product KFC injects into global societies, their brand strategy, which has become increasingly disillusioned, has me more concerned.

First, the “Re-Freshed by KFC” idea, where a man dressed up as Colonel Sanders (and a professional crew) fixed potholes around five US cities, was one of the strangest ideas I’d ever heard.  Did they really think people would get hungry and/or be reminded of “freshness” when they starred at and smelled freshly laid gravel? eh…

More recently, the TV spots focusing on KFC’s new grilled chicken recipe seem even more off beat to me.  They show KFC President, Roger Eaton, front and center professing his love for the grilled bird.  This spot is supplemented by spots that feature well-known chefs (i.e. Sandra Lee) explaining how delicious the new recipe is –this was smart.  But who thought it was a smart to use the blantently Austrailian (non-American, non-Kentuckian) Roger Eaton, as the spokesman?  For me this screams “phoney, corporate, mass-produced, chain food.”  KFC still stand for Kentucky Fried Chicken, right?  “Kentucky” and “Fried” have clearly begun to fade from the brand.  The next step will likely be the introduction of a KFC burger.

UPDATE: A brilliant piece from The Onion on how KFC will no longer be allowed to use the word “eat” in any of their advertisements…

“KFC’s claim that its fried offerings have ‘that taste you’ll just love to eat’ is in direct violation of federal regulations,” acting FCC chairman Michael Copps said. “The word ‘eat’ is legally permissible only in reference to substances appropriate for human consumption. Any implication that a consumer could or should ‘enjoy’ a KFC Crispy Strip fails to meet these standards, and presents an unlawful deception to consumers.”

“Any future appeals by KFC for the public to ingest its products will be met with swift legal action,” he added.

Working in conjunction with the Federal Trade Commission to defend consumers from what they call “blatant untruths regarding the edibility of KFC menu items,” officials at the FCC have issued a list of acceptable words and phrases the restaurant can use in its television and print ads. While “eat,” “feast on,” and “taste” remain off-limits, the FCC has approved the use of “purchase,” “be near to,” “look at,” and “hold.”\

…In keeping with the false advertising subchapter of the FTC Act of 1914, the fast food chain is prohibited from setting its commercials in a kitchen, dining room, or any space generally associated with the act of eating. It is also not permitted to show people chewing, rubbing their stomachs contentedly, or exiting a bathroom stall with a look of relief that suggests they have digested the product. Utensils of any kind are also expressly forbidden, even when held by an animated character.

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I’ve always thought Simply Orange does an amazing job of consistently communicating their brand’s promise.  The message is simple: “Do not sweeten.  Do not freeze. Do not concentrate.  Just let oranges be oranges.  And let their taste speak for itself….Simply Orange, Simply Unfooled-Around With.”  Orange juice is not a complicated product, and Simply Orange is committed to making it as authentic as possible.

Many, many brands go the route of “guaranteeing satisfaction.”  Brand managers use promotional offers like this in an attempt to demonstrate that they are so confident in their product’s superiority that they will offer a full refund–or, for example, ‘buy you a free stick of your favorite deodorant”–if you don’t agree.  For the most part, it’s a great way of enticing non-users to give your brand a try, because, really, “what have they got to lose?”  The difference here is this promotional strategy is very rarely able to actually deliver on the brand promise and reinforce its positioning.

Simply Orange doesn’t believe they compete with Tropicana or Florida Natural or (fill in the blank).  They think the only competitive force is an actual orange.  If you want to buy something that truly compares to the taste you get from Simply Orange, you need to buy a bag of oranges and squeeze them yourself.  Enter the Simply Orange “Orange Back Guarantee“: “If, after tasting, you don’t agree that Simply Orange orange juice tastes as fresh as biting into a juicy orange, (they) will send you a $7.00 check good for a bag of oranges.”

What could be more authentic? What could be more simple and consistent with the brand’s promise?