May 07, 2009

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner (or, KFC Rolls Big Red)

ATTENTION MARKETING FOLKS -- when you promise people free food, they're going to come out of the rafters to come get it. When you promise Americans free food, they're not only going to come out of the rafters, they're going to invite all their friends, have a tailgate party and celebrate at the good fortune Providence has bestowed upon them. Add in a recession, and well, it's going to cause a bit of a ruckus.

Along those lines, when you promise Americans free food, you had best have a LOT of it on hand. Otherwise, you're going to have a lot of unhappy Americans. And when Americans get unhappy ... well, it's not a pretty scene.

Consider what the poor people at Kentucky Fried Chicken are going through. They thought they had a marketing coup by getting Oprah Winfrey to advertise a giveaway in which people could receive two (2) free pieces of a "grilled" variant of their chicken. Now, why exactly anyone would buy "grilled" chicken at a fried-chicken outlet is beyond me, but there you go. And besides, it's free chicken.

Unfortunately, KFC apparently didn't adequately prepare for the onslaught of customers they would receive as a result of their promotion. Across the nation, people reported they couldn't redeem the Internet-based coupons they were told to get from the Internet. In New York, angry customers reportedly launched a sit-in upon not receiving their free chicken. In Annapolis, the giveaway was apparently being operated by managerial fiat, with predictably poor results. And it would appear, based on media coverage of this story -- 'cause it's one now -- that KFC's logo needs a "FAIL" stamp put on it.

Not only that, but El Pollo Loco came in and told KFC -- in so many words -- to step aside and let the professionals handle it. Oh, hell yeah.

Now, as a former California resident, I am quite familiar with El Pollo Loco, which is where people in the Golden State go if they want not-fried chicken. I can also say that, as a former California resident, I would go to El Pollo Loco over KFC any day of the week. Also, New Hampshire needs an El Pollo Loco, just like it needs an In-N-Out Burger, a Jack in the Box, and a Del Taco. Maybe El Pollo Loco will save me from what by all means can be considered a fast-food desert up here.

But I digress. Anyway, El Pollo Loco noticed that KFC's free chicken giveaway wasn't good on Mother's Day. I don't know why it's not, even though I personally would sooner cut off my own head rather than take a girl to KFC on Mother's Day. I have no desire to discover the secret recipe for sleeping on the sofa for three weeks. But anyway, El Pollo Loco came out and said, "Fine. If KFC has something against mothers, we'll honor the damn coupons on Mother's Day, plus throw in two side dishes and tortillas." Oh, snap.

Also -- as CNBC reports -- El Pollo Loco caught stupid people from KFC calling into their comment line and talking up the Colonel's product while denigrating the citrusy goodness of El Pollo Loco. Then El Pollo Loco went and made an ad about it, using the taped conversations and Caller ID information. ("Highway 5? In California, it's The 5.") Oh, snap.

Besides, as at least one commenter I saw pointed out, KFC serves Pepsi products. Ew. Coke is it, people --

-- or, if you're like me, Coke Zero, 'cause it has no sugar in it. Yeah.

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at May 7, 2009 12:51 AM | TrackBack
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