To celebrate the highly anticipated launch of its new Kentucky Grilled Chicken, fast food chain KFC was giving away gratis pieces of grilled chicken to customers. To help promote the offer Oprah Winfrey added her celebrity heft in marketing the offer. Usually whenever the Big "O" gets involved, the world listens. Well, in this case, KFC's innovative viral campaign came to a crashing halt when the chicken-lickin' demand exceeded its paltry poultry supply.
The venerable greasy chicken conglomerate hired Oprah to announce the promotion on her show, offering a free grilled-chicken meal to anyone who downloaded a coupon from Oprah's Web site. With free KFC coupons in hand, chicken-lovers revolted. When one manager at a midtown Manhattan outpost told customers that the promotion was over, patrons called "fowl" and commenced a sit-in, refusing to leave the store until they received what Oprah had promised them!
Not knowing what tactic to use next, KFC finally had to raise the white flag of surrender by calling in the President to solve the crisis. Now we know that Mr. Obama has a lot of items on his plate right now, but we didnt' think grilled chicken was one of them! Does the government really have to get involved in another bail-out?
Then in the 11th hour, we found out that the President that KFC was referring to was their very own President, Roger Eaton. The 48-year old KFC chief has served in his position since June, 2008 and under his previous leadership, KFC's restaurants in Australia delivered nothing but profitable growth as a result of his consistent product innovation.
However also titled, Chief Concept Officer, it appears that in the States, Mr. Eaton might have bit off more chicken that he could chew. From a social media standpoint, when KFC crowed in tweets on Twitter about the "Oprah Winfrey" connection, it prompted the offer to go viral throughout the Twitterverse... pushing it into the microblogging sites's top 10 trending topics!
To resolve the crisis, Eaton had to thwart additioinal angry mobs from taking to the street with torches, by offering the following apology and the offer of KFC rainchecks, via YouTube:
ImageEl Pollo Loco, one of KFC's major competitors (in some parts of the country) was savvy enough to use the campaign to its own advantage. It wisely decided to honor the Oprah 2 Piece Meal coupon on Mother's Day, a day excluded in the KFC May 5 - May 19 promotional window.( note: reminiscent of the "Soup Nazi" on Seinfeld, one can almost conjure up an image of Colonel Sanders barking out a "No chicken for you today!") So readers if you have one in your neighborhood, El Pollo Loco will award you with a free two-piece flame-grilled chicken meal per customer with the KFC coupon on May 10.
So, out of the kitchen, into the fire... while KFC's president is coming off the heals of one calamity, he heads into another. By not offering KFC's chicken coupon to mothers on Mother's Day he may be headed for a more serious dilemma than the one he originally created.
And if that be the case, perhaps it might have been prudent of him to ask Obama for that bail-out after all!