Who could mock the possibility of nuclear war in marketing and get away with it? KFC just did in a single tweet that mocked the "bigger button" exchange between Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump.

Stepping into politics can kill your brand, as many have learned. But KFC's marketing team is not your average collection of strategists, particularly when it comes to humor. From the prom chicken corsage campaign to the 11 Herbs and Spice Girls Twitter follows and literal stratospheric suspension of a chicken burger, these people have shown themselves masters of social media.

And this latest tweet was a beauty. Coming from the KFC UK & Ireland Twitter account, it took a couple of tweets between the two heads of state that had many people scared over the escalating tensions between two nuclear powers. But rather than directly address the exchange, the social media team changed the context to something benign.

After a couple of days, the message has more than 480,000 likes, nearly 182,000 retweets, and 3,900 responses. And gravy. That is social media savvy. There's a ready  Eater named KFC its #Brand of the Year.

That wasn't the only clever social media marketing hit the company managed of late. A 15-second YouTube short that plays on the theme of the company hiring a non-celebrity Colonel spokesperson to save money has gained 276,000 views in the last two weeks.

Back in September 2017, another video that had the Colonel character showing a split personality arguing with himself over different chicken flavors eventually received more than 10.7 million views.

There are some pointers you could glean from carefully watching the KFC accounts:

  • Always use a light self-referential touch when it comes to humor. Even the nuclear tweets were turned on KFC and McDonald's to reduce any sense of threat.
  • Use volume. KFC keeps posting, knowing that little of its work will get the big attention. But that's fine, because the few hits more than make up for it.
  • Make use of multiple social media networks that will let you reuse marketing content and expand your reach and increase the chances that something catch's the public's eye.
  • Employ people who know what they're doing, which means understanding marketing psychology and making creativity work for a business goal.