KFC returns us now to the thrilling era of the catchphrase with “I Ate the Bones.”

I can’t believe I ate the whole bones thing, is what comes to my mind.

Try the bones, you’ll like the bones. Mama Mia, that’s some spicy bones.


What’s really interesting is, these KFC ads are running simultaneously with the new K-Mart catchphrase attempt.

Talk about your zeitgeist. Does this mean that we’ll soon be battling gasoline shortages, high inflation, and a jowl-shaking president who is forced to resign in disgrace after bumbling hired thieves are caught burgling the opposition’s political headquarters in a DC hotel? Hope not, because that means we have to live through the 80s and Duran Duran again.


Anyway. I enjoy those “I ate the bones” ads, and I think they do a good job of making people: 1. pay attention 2. understand what exactly is going on here which is, for some, big news and 3. tend to remember, repeat, and even re-use the line in the personal lives with their friends. There is practically no higher praise for a piece of creative work (besides, “it sold stuff”).

Let’s screen another one:

(I do like the voice of the actor who says, “Original recipe.” I wish I could talk that good.)

Here’s my only quibble. When they roll out most creative lines in other media—billboards are the classic example—often the creative team talks about it and ultimately decides to feature the catchphrase prominently, especially on media with limited story-telling abilities. Like billboards. Or parking lot lightpole signage:

It’s a mysterious sign in the parking lot that, having not seen the TV, makes the experience seem somewhat questionable. Should we go ahead and hang it up?
It’s a mysterious sign in the parking lot that, having not seen the TV, makes the experience seem somewhat questionable. Should we go ahead and hang it up?

And if that parking lot lightpole sign said, “I just shipped my pants!” or “I can’t believe I ate the whole thing!” we’d be through here. But it says, “I ate the bones!” And though there might be a viral component to this (I mostly only saw the K-Mart ad on my Facebook feed), the days are gone, gone, gone where you can assume that Mr. and Mrs. America are watching the very episode of All In The Family in which you have chosen to run your “I ate the bones” campaign. Mr. and Mrs. A. tend to miss a lot of TV ads these days.

And if you (like me, actually) are driving through town and see the lightpole sign that says “I ate the bones!” (like I did) you might be forced to think about it a little too much and come up with the idea (as I did, before I knew the score) that the bones might be ground up and included like Jamie Oliver’s nugget paste right in the goo they make the chicken from. That’s not what I really thought, but I had to consider that as one possible interpretation.

Whatever. It’s not what most people will think, probably, but it does point out that we can’t assume that anyone has seen any other part of our campaign, especially if it’s a TV campaign running in this fragmented media landscape. And we always have to consider how an uninformed person might read the sign, and whether the conclusion they might reach (or the image that might come to mind) isn’t really what we want them to be thinking.

I misinterpreted the bones!