KFC has earned a well-deserved reputation for using unusual marketing approaches to call attention to the brand. In the past, it has promoted curious products such as a chicken corsage, which came with a KFC gift certificate. It also briefly offered chicken-scented sunscreen, and visitors to the KFC website snapped up the 200 free tubes available in two hours.
While these two promotions were unconventional, the company’s latest marketing ploy on Twitter relied on subtle humour. On Sunday, Inc. Magazine noticed that KFC’s Twitter account was following only 11 people.
It follows Geri Horner, Victoria Beckham, Emma Bunton, Melanie Brown and Melanie C. The names may not sound familiar to you if you weren’t a pop music fan in the late 1990’s, but those five women were the members of the extremely popular music group, the Spice Girls.
The other six people that KFC follows on Twitter have only one thing in common – they all have the same first name, Herb. The account follows Herb Alpert, Herb Dean, Herb Scribner, Herb Sendek, Herb Waters, and Herb J. Wesson, Jr.
Yes, KFC’s clever marketing ploy is that its Twitter account follows 11 herbs and spices, just like the secret ingredients in its recipe.
KFC’s digital marketing team came up with the idea in collaboration with Wieden+Kennedy, the company’s advertising agency. W+K is headquartered in Portland, Oregon and has a worldwide presence.
“Our vault was getting cleaned, so I thought the best place to keep the secret recipe was on Twitter,” Bentley McBentleson, KFC’s digital marketing manager, said ” ‘No one’s going to look at who we’re following!’ I thought. Boy, was I wrong. I’ve made a huge mistake.”
Obviously, nobody made a mistake. The ploy has made a strong impression, and many media organisations have published this playful story.
In a recent interview, Greg Creed, CEO of Yum! Brands – the Fortune 500 company that operates the KFC brand – said the company has used marketing to reinvent itself. He noted that KFC uses unusual marketing ploys to develop an emotional connection with its customers, and he believes that doing so is critical for growing the brand.