If you've been watching KFC as closely as I have, you might have heard about the time it launched the "F-C-K" chicken tubs after running out of chicken. Or, the time it created new fries after hearing from a Twitter user that no one likes KFC fries.

In both of these negative scenarios, I expected somewhat of a drastic response, complete with the right dose of wit and humor I'm accustomed to seeing in KFC's everyday social media usage. The brand still managed to surprise me--and it just surprised me again with its newly launched Fried Chicken and Cheetos Sandwich.

Individually, these examples might seem random, but collectively, they are an extension of the "Re-Colonelization" strategy KFC adopted four years ago. And that's a strategy every entrepreneur should learn:

KFC is staying relevant by catering to unique, young audiences.

People get old. Food preferences change. In order to stay relevant, companies need to be able to adapt to new and younger audiences. KFC realizes this and tries to get different groups of people talking about them in different contexts.

That's part of why the company decided to send a sandwich into space--or, for that matter, combine two popular junk foods to create an irresistible sandwich. You don't consider this sandwich irresistable? Then you're not KFC's target audience right now.

It understands the principles of supply and demand.

People want what they can't have because otherwise, they will feel they're missing out on what seems like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. As of now, not every foodie can get a bite of the Fried Chicken and Cheetos Sandwich. It will only be available in three lucky states, North Carolina, Virginia, and Georgia, and only for a limited time.

If geography is your friend, you will notice that all three states are in the South, where people love deep-fried-everything, and I guess Cheetos. So, unless people happen to live in one of the fortunate states, or are willing to travel, they are out of luck unless or until KFC makes it part of their standard menu.

It's not afraid of making bold moves.

Making bold moves is not easy, but my personal experience tells me that the more you do it, the easier it becomes. The same can be said about KFC. True, some people might see this move as a gimmick versus a real sandwich that is here to stay, but its core fans would appreciate the originality and creativity involved.

KFC played safe for multiple decades between the Colonel's death and their "Re-Colonelization." Over the past few years, it's made many bold moves and received both positive and negative responses. I'm guessing the company doesn't want to play it safe anymore, because "safe" isn't enough to survive in today's market.

Now, it might not seem to make a lot of sense to do this type of marketing, but when a brand is targeting a younger demographic, it makes sense to be a little bit more bold with their marketing. After a while, you can't just keep talking about how tasty the chicken is. You have to figure out a way to always stay on top of mind to the younger audience.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: KFC can teach other brands, marketers, PR specialists, and students a lot about making unexpected yet memorable moves. PR stunts are part of their new DNA. 

Now, I'm starving. Unfortunately, I live in Chicago. If your local KFC serves the Fried Chicken and Cheetos Sandwich, do me a favor and let me know if you like it.

Published on: Feb 27, 2019
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