Hot New Media: Buns

Yes, KFC is employing college babes on campus to push their new bun-less chicken sandwich. And yes, they’re using buns to do it. Is it wrong? The National Organization for Women thinks so. Is it effective? You bet your butt. After working incredibly hard for the last two decades to make one of the most recognizable fast food chains in the nation almost completely irrelevant, the folks who used to answer to the Colonel have begun to wake up and market themselves.

Terry O’Neill, President of the National Association for women says, “It’s so obnoxious to once again be using women’s bodies to sell fundamentally unhealthy products.” What’s more, she says KFC has forgotten something important: Women make more than half the decisions about what to eat for dinner. Ah, but there’s the rub. Ever since Crispin Porter + Bogusky helped Burger King pull free of the constraints of moms and play areas, fast food has become much more honest with itself and has started to focus on its most willing customer: young men. Young men live in a state of invincibility, with no fear of weight gain or health problems. They’re ravenously hungry, and wolfing down a 1200-calorie sandwich doesn’t bother them one bit – as long as there’s a chaser of fries and an extra large swig of High Fructose Corn Syrup to go with them.

You have to admit, KFC really needed to shake things up. The longtime purveyors of cluck recently confessed that more than six in 10 Americans between 18 and 25 couldn’t identify Colonel Sanders within the KFC logo. Um, hello? Ever watch Leno do a “Jay Walking” segment? Most of that demo can’t identify L.A. on a map, but it’s clear that KFC has let things fall into a state of disrepair. The inherent problem for this particular chain has been that their most identifiable brand features – Kentucky and a pale old fried chicken-eating Colonel, haven’t been in vogue for a while. But rather than embracing what was truthful and great about their food and their brand, they just ran from it. They got rid of “fried,” becoming “KFC.” The grand old Colonel got an apron and became the kitchen help, and then KFC started pushing all manner of trinket-y, fad-like menu offerings – none of which have lasted or become popular enough to take the place of original recipe chicken and mashed potatoes.

Sadly, the excessively conceived Double Down will probably turn out to be another in a long line of ill-fated menu features, but the marketing stunt is at least getting the brand’s latest offering out there. And you can’t argue that the approach is right: You have college co-eds (is that still a word?) with messaging on their rear ends giving out fried sandwiches and coupons for gluttony to hungry, randy college guys. This is known as field sampling, and it’s done with great success by all kinds of brands in all kinds of venues. Without question, the Double Down promotion is a little crass. It’s a perfect example of how brands will, at the end of the day, trade universal respect for the buck. But KFC isn’t doing anything its competitors wouldn’t do if they had the opportunity. Really, this is the first recipe KFC has gotten right in a while.

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college coeds doing bunless sampling


  1. Ron Tedwater says:

    Really nice post,thank you

  2. Nicki Minaj says:

    Thats some good fundamentals there, already knew some of that, but you can always learn more. I doubt a “kid” could put together such information as dolphin278 suggested. Maybe he’s just attempting to be “controversial? lol

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