KFC-Gate ’09 = Epic Fail

KFC oughta consider making some changes to its top executives, like for real. I know I wrote Oprah a sternly-worded letter but the people who deserve a tongue lashing is KFC’s Public Relations team. Not only for its lack of foresight, but for the lack of strategy in rolling out this “FREE Grilled Chicken” deal.

As a Marketer myself, I see all TYPES of wrong that was done that has resulted in the newest news. Today, the Consumerist posted a statement released by KFC’s President saying “We are so sorry, but due to the overwhelming response to our FREE Kentucky Grilled Chicken meal coupon, we can no longer redeem the free coupon at this time. But we will honor our commitment to giving you a free Kentucky Grilled Chicken meal.” Oh and how will they honor this? They will issue folks rainchecks and have them mail it to Corporate for a coupon. Right. Way to punk out, KFC.

Here is where they went wrong resulting in this EPIC FAIL.

The Colonel messed this one up

1. Underestimating the Power of Oprah – Have they learned NOTHING from these past 20 years of her show being on the air? Oprah is one of THE most influential people in the world. She tells people to do something, and best believe it is DONE. Oprah: “I need you all to shave your heads. Why? Just because I’m bored.” Watch her next show’s entire audience be clones of Amber Rose. The chick has single-handedly taken many books from relative obscurity to the top of the BestSeller’s List. Any products she mentions on her show, even in passing, becomes the hottest items. Oprah has the ear of the most important consumers in the world: Moms.

I’m not sure the response KFC thought would happen when Oprah endorsed this giveaway, but it’s clear that they were not prepared.

2. F.R.E.A.M. (FREE Rules Everything Around Me) – This is the part that kills me. People LOVE the Free.99 more than anything. Folks will go for anything just because it’s free. Shoot, I’m liable to go get a shot just because it’s free. People are attracted to FREE like R. Kelly is attracted to Little Girls. DUH KFC! People are going to show up by the DROVES! Then it was free CHICKEN, the food that most folks love! KFC, you dumber than a door know. I ain’t lying.

3. A Multi-day giveaway – This is where KFC REALLY shot themselves in the foot with a BB Gun. Why in the hot Hades would they have a FREE giveaway that lasted multiple days? This is not only unnecessary when doing something FREE (since one day is all you need to capture folks’ attention if they aren’t paying for something), but it is ridiculously fiscally irresponsible. The amount of chicken they were potentially to give away would not even add up to the return they get. What made this multi-day giveway even WORSE was…

4. PDF coupon – After enough time past and Oprah’s website was at capacity because of all the coupon downloads, KFC produced a PDF version of the coupon. This was by far THE dumbest thing they could have done. A PDF coupon with no way to keep codes exclusive to one use means folks could make infinite copies of coupons. Who’s idea was this? He/she needs to be fired faster than trigger happy NYPD. I mean, really. iCan’t with them.

Umm, KFC, y’all need more people (that got sense on your team). This is gonna go down in some Business & Marketing textbook as KFC-Gate 09 (What NOT to do). Lack of strategy, lack of rationale and blatant lack of foresight.

WOMP KFC. F your life.

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  1. Adwoa
    May 8, 2009 at 11:32 am

    And all the people say….AMEN!!!!

  2. Ms_Slim
    May 8, 2009 at 12:00 pm

    Okay so the last post you wrote on this (my comment went to Comment Heaven, le sigh), I didnt agree with because of the healthy-esque route that was taken on this whole chicken fiasco. Plus! I saw more good than bad in the offer.

    Now though? They RENEGED on the offer, you say?

    I’m a lil upset because I didnt even use my coupon yet. I said I’d wait a week til the rush died down a little.

    After reading this, I hear this COMPLETELY. As a member of the Marketing World myself, I can definitely understand how this situation went haywire and how they were NOT prepared for this…to the point of them reneging on the chicken no less, smh.

    The coupon was only by specific download and only ONE per computer and couldnt be photocopied. I had no idea that they made a PDF on the site. Just straight took away all the exclusivity the offer entailed to begin with, smh.

    PS; I hope 1. This comment posts (I’m copying it just in case though) and 2. KFC finds this letter and give all commenters and you something free regardless LOL!!!

    May 8, 2009 at 12:22 pm

    im still laughing at the title of KFC-gate

    until my damn coupon prints out I will side with you on epic fail

  4. rainebeaux
    May 8, 2009 at 3:35 pm

    Speak on it, Luvvie, speak on it! This is a sham-honkin-wow moment here…

    Real talk, KFC: you embarrass O, you embarrass yourselves. Did you also learn nothing from James Frey*?!

    *oh, that’s right: once Oprah got wind of all the lies in his book, “A Million Little Pieces”–that she turned into a bestseller, no less–that’s all HE wrote!

    “Sir, there’s an extra crispy chicken-fried EPIC FAIL WHALE in front of Yum!Brands headquarters, please advise…” F their life, indeed.

  5. amymay
    May 8, 2009 at 10:55 pm

    As we here in the cornfield say, yup, they screwed the pooch on this one for sure!

  6. Shawnta`
    May 9, 2009 at 11:47 am

    People are attracted to FREE like R. Kelly is attracted to Little Girls. DUH KFC!

    Hilarious. But true. Folks don't play around w/free stuff. I had no intention of using this coupon but knew without thinking too much about it that it would be CRAZY.

    Sooooo many people watch Oprah, the offer was posted on Facebook and Twitter, everyone was forwarding about it – t was everywhere. You're right; KFC should have put more thought into it. The final decision to run with it was most likely based on the fact that they knew Oprah would help pump up business & profits. They probably thought there would be a profit of some sort because people would buy other food/drinks while there redeeming the coupon. Poor planning + poor execution of strategy = disaster & craziness. I'm sure Oprah & KFC are receiving a lot of terse email messages & letters.

  7. Monk
    May 12, 2009 at 8:03 am

    I don’t think KFC failed at all. There name has NEVER been mentioned this much EVER. Nobody even eats there (that I know of) but they definitely introduced their new product in a way that people are paying a little attention to them again.

    May 14, 2009 at 2:11 pm

    man i just drove to kfc on my lunch and was told we dont honor the coupon. matter of fact no kfc in my hood did. so i want to thank oprah for the reminder that poor people will continue to get the short end of the stick. i was so hungry, heffa 🙁