Coronavirus Effect: KFC Cancelled Its Latest Ad

How “a good commercial” turns into an inappropriate campaign due to human-related and environmental factors, in these coronavirus—oriented times1 min


Coronavirus Effect: KFC. We know how the big brands of the globalized world diminish the boundaries to get bigger, not only becoming the trends but also giving direction to people’s lives. Just like in the case of coronavirus… This unstoppable virus exceeds many boundaries, affects and unfortunately changes “everything that’s human-related”, such as our lives, our habits, all the countries, and also marketings. 

At this very point of change, people reflect their customer habits and perspectives to the market accordingly. The dramatic increase in hygienic measures, a contagious virus, restrictions, and alterations in political and economic norms… All of these are actually affecting the campaigns and commercials the companies make. 

You ask how? There’s a recent example of that. So, how come it got affected this much? How come something “creative” turned into a campaign that received many complaints? Let’s go on with the content for the answers. Coronavirus Effect: KFC

Click here to find another article about the effect of the virus on ads!

Click here to find other posts we’ve shared about the impact of the virus on our lives.

Just like the customers express themselves with the brands they prefer, brands also shape their campaigns accordingly to their target group’s preferences and wishes. Because of coronavirus, some brands discontinue their campaigns to not encourage people to do inappropriate behaviors. A while ago, deodorant brand Axe suspended its ads in which oxygen masks cover people to protect them from bad odor, and Hershey changed its ad that was full of handshaking and hugs since hygiene became much more important.

Another example has occurred very recently. KFC released a commercial, but it necessitated crisis management because of the pandemic outbreak, whereas it could have been a successful and creative ad. With the globalized social media and the internet, brands have spread to so many countries, and restaurant chains have netted not only one location but the whole world. KFC, one of the strongest of such companies, has combined the brand’s signature slogan “finger-lickin' good” with a sauce, mounting the campaign “piano finger-lickin' good”. 

Here is this creative and impressive ad, if you haven’t seen it yet.

At this point, the crisis that the world is in has been an unfortunate problem for this ad. Because as it’s very well known now, hygiene is the most crucial factor when trying to stop the spread of the pandemic. Hands should be properly washed at least 20 seconds with water and soap, and we should definitely not touch our face, mouth, and eyes. However, KFC’s commercial is exactly about the connection between hands and mouth. It very creatively transforms eating and tasting into a form of art, with the piano in the background. By claiming that their job is like art, they reveal the enjoyment of getting the taste of every little bit, followed by a beautiful sensation of fullness.

Well, what do we get out of all this?

Brands release their commercials in order to reach their target groups, it’s their way of expressing themselves. But in crisis conditions, strong brands should be able to see how their expression evolves into something different. Well then, was their crisis management correct? Yes, because more than 100 people have complained about the brand, and it got reactions from many institutions. This action was needed to be taken for people’s health. They should know that their customers will be following them, doing the things that the adverts tempt them to. For these reasons, KFC’s piano lickin’ good commercial was unluckily timed. Its drawback was sad, as it was a creative and nice ad that would have been pretty successful at another time, but it was a correct move in terms of crisis management. As brands and their commercials always go hand in hand with society, they never develop independently. They develop each other, instead. We will see KFC in the future —with much better timing, and with a strong if not a stronger campaign.

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Birsen Kargın

Graduated in Business Administration and Management from Ege University. Greatly interested in creative advertisement and green marketing. Aspires to make a positive difference in the world, working on projects that positively impact people's lives and create change.

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