The Power of Brand vs. The Power of Advertising

One of the immortals, this man.

Describe the last Kentucky Fried Chicke—wait, sorry, KFC advertising campaign.

Do you remember it? Ideally you would be able to name something that’s running right now.

I’ll give you a minute. Think. I’ll try it, too.

…okay, time’s up. My answer is: yikes. I don’t know.

I remember that they had trouble awhile back when they were advertising chicken that wasn’t all that healthy as if it were really pretty doggone good for you and had to pull the ads. Also, I remember people mocking the first appearance of the reanimated cartoon zombie Colonel Sanders who could break dance, but now I’m showing my age.

KFC is a brand that survives without an ad campaign strategy. Or without a consistent one, anyway. There’s nothing they really have to say that can change what people think.

Which works great. That’s my conclusion, I guess.

Because I just read an article that says they’re the largest foreign fast-food chain in China, and they plan to expand.

So I looked up: they’re 9th largest in the QSR rankings.

And we can’t remember their advertising. Okay, I’m going to look that up, too. Here. This is what you couldn’t remember:

How can it be?

What does the world, from wherever you’re sitting to China (I’m just gonna assume you’re not sitting in China), think about the KFC brand? I think I’m correct to say that whatever the opinion is, it’s impervious to advertising.

Probably to communication in general. I mean, how are they still in business after this?

They actually ran the most-complained about “advert” ever in Great Britain. Didn’t hurt them much.

Is that okay? I imagine the YUM! brand team is relatively okay with the fact that no matter what they do, nobody really changes how they view the Colonel’s legacy. We all just get that if we’re close to one and we feel like some fried chicken, we know what to do. And what we’ll get.

It’s a powerful brand that can weather even Patton Oswalt’s mockery (NSFW, BTW) and still be Top Ten.

I don’t like it. I like to believe it matters what a business says, and that the public uses an aggregate of all the information they see about a brand to form a conclusion about whether someone like them would like to do business there. I like to think if Quizno’s, for example, hadn’t abandoned their brand, things might be different for them now. I like to think Sonic is successful largely because they came up with a campaign that truly seemed to reflect their core values as a brand.

But that may not always be true.

So, um, okay. Go, Colonel. Why not?