A few days ago, KFC announced that it would sell a brief run of Extra Crispy Sunscreen that works like regular sunscreen with the added benefit of smelling like extra crispy fried chicken.
At first, this just seems like a mindless marketing tactic to build on the current campaign starring George Hamilton. I knew it was a thinly veiled attempt to generate social media activity and get some play in publications. I passed it off as sophomoric and lacking any real ability to gain any sort of preference.
Until I read the press release.
It reads like most other releases on promotional gimmicks, carefully weaving in the details of the gimmick with how it is supposed to relate to the brand. However, as I read the last paragraph, I was dumbfounded. It is a quote from Kevin Hochman, chief marketing officer of KFC US. It reads:
“While I’d love to tell you our customers have been asking for this, they haven’t,” Hochman added. “In fact, I’m pretty confident nobody ever asked for this. It’s just some crazy idea we dreamed up.”
Extra Crispy Sunscreen doesn’t help the brand.
I have been a very outspoken critic of how Yum brands have lacked much considered thought in its brands. I’ve been hard on the company because it’s my job to find issues with brands and develop a strategy to fix them.
But now it appears I haven’t been too hard on them at all. Yum and KFC have no idea where they are going from a strategic direction as evidenced by the statement, “…It’s just some crazy idea we dreamed up.”
Make no mistake, out of the box thinking is how I operate, but that thinking has to be tied to an overarching strategy. KFC’s foray into skin protection has no strategy – and the quote proves they know it.
There is nothing about Extra Crispy Sunscreen that ties people to the brand meaning of KFC. Sure it may tie them to the nostalgia of the brand, it does not make consumers more loyal or apt to try KFC for a meal. It generated some buzz, but it’s buzz about the sunscreen, not KFC’s brand.
If I were an investor, I would be worried about what was going on in that C-suite. In quick service, activity without accomplishment is costly, especially for brands that are already struggling.