Saturday, May 9, 2009

KFC: Think it Through!

Kentucky Fried Chicken recently partnered with Oprah to offer a downloadable coupon on her website offering consumers two pieces of the brand's new product, Kentucky Grilled Chicken.

However, this gesture, which was intended to gain good PR, backfired for the company. In fact, the situation had arguably the opposite effect, causing anger and frustration in many consumers.

Consumers waited hours to download the coupon because the website could not accommodate the high numbers of traffic the offer drew. There were also problems in redeeming the coupon, as individual restaurants were seemingly unaware of the offer and unwilling or ill-prepared to handle the volume of free chicken they were expected to hand out.

These problems can largely be attributed to poor planning; when designing their PR initiative, KFC apparently did not (sufficiently) take into consideration "the enormous drawing power of Oprah, the viral capabilities of the internet (which immediately clucked the news even to people who don't watch Oprah...), the general allure of anything that is free, and the state of the economy," according to an article written for NPR by Linda Holmes.

We can all learn something from the mistakes made in this situation: when implementing a PR plan, think things through and do your research thoroughly to avoid a PR nightmare!

**Update (added 5/10/09):
KFC has acknowledged the problems associated with the offer and is now taking good steps in crisis communication to work toward fixing the problem. The company has apologized publicly on the Oprah show for the mix-up and has also posted a statement of apology on The company says it will "honor [their] commitment to giving [consumers] a free Kentucky Fried Chicken meal" by issuing rain check forms that have been made available at participating restaurants. The company has also provided detailed instructions to consumers about how to properly complete the rain check forms and has made contact information- a phone number and e-mail address- available on Oprah's website. When all is said and done, besides learning from KFC's mistakes in this incident, maybe there will be some good lessons in PR to take from this situation as well.

1 comment:

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