I wrote some time ago that the new direction KFC took with its impersonations of Colonel Sanders was creepy. (Even Darrell Hammond, who played the first iteration of the fake Colonel Sanders, is flummoxed.) While the ads continue to be more of a joke than using any kind of brand equity, its new ad bothers me more than the others.
First, the ad fails to convince me that I should drop everything I am doing and run to KFC. The ad fails to convince me that KFC employees are somehow better trained or will go the extra mile in their quest to serve the best fried chicken.
The KFC ad was filmed deliberately but mistakes still happen.
The ad is plain silly but a note of caution here. When filming an ad (or a TV show or a movie), everything is deliberate. If you’ve ever been on a set, you see that each set piece, camera movement, piece of dialogue and action is planned out in advance.
In this ad, about 20 seconds in, KFC and its ad agency, the vaulted Weiden+Kennedy, have placed a microwave in the upper right corner.
The song is about how the KFC cooks make their chicken the hard way, breaded by hand with the “Colonel quality guarantee.” And then there is this ridiculous scene of a cook running uphill on a treadmill trying to grab a bucket of chicken with a microwave in the background. What about that conveys the idea of the hard way or freshness, as the ad purports? It was not placed there by accident, so what’s the point?
To be honest, I’m not sure many viewers will even notice the oven because the ad itself is forgettable. I also know that microwaves are used all the time but to have one so clearly in view in a commercial about the freshness and quality of food is a miscalculation.
Powerful brands have to care about everything. Nike, Widen+Kennedy’s most famous client, would have never let the agency get away with this. And neither should have KFC.