Companies have done strange things to sell their products, but lately Kentucky Fried Chicken takes the cake when it comes to crazy stunts. The latest edition calls upon the vocal power of Portlandia’s Fred Armisen to serenade fried chicken lovers with honky tonk tunes, but it is hardly the first thing KFC has done to woo customers.
Here’s a journey through the chicken chain’s wildest marketing ploys, from chicken-scented sunscreen to its new vinyl record.
The Double Down
This might be the most epic KFC creation of all time: no bread, just two large pieces of fried chicken sandwiching bacon and cheese. The Double Down first debuted in 2010 but made a comeback in 2014, to the delight of fans who loved it dearly the first time around.
Much of this eccentric marketing is rooted in the resurgence of the great goateed mascot for KFC: Colonel Sanders. The chain embarked upon a large-scale rebranding in 2015, bringing in a handful of well-known actors to don the white coat and become the Colonel, including the likes of Darrell Hammond, Norm Macdonald, Jim Gaffigan, and others.
In the summer of 2015, KFC ramped up its efforts to appeal to Millennial consumers and their propensity for taking thousands of photos by releasing a fried chicken bucket that doubled as a photo printer.
Finger Lickin’ Nail Polish
With this stunt, KFC banked on customers wanting the chicken flavor long after the chicken is gone. In May 2016, KFC Hong Kong produced two “flavors” of nail polish (original recipe, hot and spicy) that wearers can lick to get that familiar chicken taste at any moment.
Takeout Box With USB Port
Keeping up with the times is a surefire way to retain customers, and when KFC decided its customers needed to charge their phones while eating chicken, it unveiled a takeout box that included a USB charger at locations in India in June 2016. It apparently didn’t work that well, however, leaving chicken lovers with full bellies, but not full batteries.
In July, KFC partnered with DC Comics in a stunt that poked a bit of fun at its own marketing efforts and the multitude of Colonel Sanders that resulted. The story was a true battle of the Colonels, with assorted alter-egos vying for ultimate domination.
KFC dug deep into the wells of puns for this one, producing Extra Crispy sunscreen to keep beachgoers from getting that cooked-chicken glow, because what’s better than preventing a sunburn than smelling like fried chicken? Nothing, in KFC’s book. The SPF 30 lotion was available online this past August, with special instruction that buyers should not eat the product.
Fried Chicken Candle
Yes, that’s correct, earlier this month, KFC produced a candle that can fill a home with the scent of fried chicken, in a move that will clearly banish all other scented candles to the trash. This ploy was only a social media stunt in New Zealand, but it may have provided the company fodder for future stunts: the contest asked Twitter users to suggest other merchandise they’d like to see from the chain.
While music mecca Nashville has produced some of the greatest records of all time, this is probably not one of them. KFC’s Nashville Hot Record is out today in a limited release with only 125 copies available at 14 record stores across the country. Of course, you can also listen to the tunes online to hear Armisen croon “facts about Nashville you can find via a simple internet search” and about how “C-O-L-O-N-E-L sounds quite different than how it’s spelled.”
The fast-food restaurant apparently made the decision to cut a vinyl record in homage to, those sweeter times in the 1960s when KFC’s founder and mascot Colonel Sanders released a number of albums that included “everything from Christmas compilations from popular artists of the time, to Tijuana Brass knockoffs, and even trendy tunes from his very own mandolin band.” The more you know.
Needless to say, keep an eye out for KFC’s next stunt. Maybe they’ll bring back the chicken keyboard or opt for some of the suggestions from Twitter fans, like lip balm or bath bombs.
• Nashville Hot Record Website [Official]
• KFC's Colonel Sanders: The Man, the Myth, the Mascot [E]
• All Chains Coverage [E]