KFC Writes ‘FCK’ On Bucket To Say Sorry

The beloved fried chicken faced a whole sleuth of flack due to an unexpected chicken shortage, resulting in widespread store closures that upset their customers to a point where many believed was beyond repair. It was the ultimate PR disaster–one that sent the brand into red alert.

Mother London, the marketing team and its agency knew they had to respond to the severe chicken shortage and subsequent store closings—quickly. What message would come off as both sincere and on-brand for a chain known for not taking itself too seriously?

The answer came in three letters:

FCK.

At the Cannes Lions, where KFC U.K.’s charmingly humble apology ad won gold Lions in PR and Print, Adweek caught up with CMO Meg Farren and Mother London executive creative director Hermeti Balarin to talk about the process and conversations that led to the ad’s creation.

“We knew it was very serious,” Balarin said. “So by that moment, when we locked ourselves in a room to coming up with it, was literally 24 hours.”

A testament to a close relationship between a brand and its agency, the ad was developed and brought to market rapidly, but that’s not to say that running it was the most obvious choice. Farren said she had understandable concerns about how it might be received but that, in the end, her team was confident the public would get on board.

“We put it under the nose of one of our lawyers, and she just instantly smiled,” Farren said. “We just knew, people were going to smile at this.”

Leave a Reply