‘You Want Me to Write FCK on a Bucket?’ How KFC’s PR Crisis Became a Print Ad for the Ages

CANNES, France—Few things in life feel better than a perfectly timed obscenity.

And luckily for KFC U.K. and Ireland, the brand found exactly that. When the chain faced widespread store closures due to a severe and unexpected chicken shortage, it had all the makings of a PR disaster—the kind some brands never truly recover from.

kfc_fck

The marketing team and its agency, Mother London, knew they had to respond. But how? What message would come off as both sincere and on-brand for a chain known for not taking itself too seriously? (This is, after all, the same team that built an entire ad around chickens strutting to “X Gonna Give It to Ya.”)

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.

Read more at AdWeek: https://www.adweek.com/creativity/you-want-me-to-write-fck-on-a-bucket-how-kfcs-pr-crisis-became-a-print-ad-for-the-ages/

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