Cannes Lions

KFC 'Ain't No Small Fry'

MOTHER, London / KFC / 2019

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KFC fries were the number one most complained about item on the menu. Not great when they come with virtually everything on the menu. It was time for an upgrade; a tastier chunkier fry; a fry worthy of KFC’s famous chicken. For KFC it was big news; they seldom change their menu. But with a new improved recipe ready to launch, how do you get the whole nation talking about it? To add to the challenge, total media budget was £230K versus the usual, and much larger, KFC media spend for a new product launch. Our ultimate goal was to drive trial of new fries and an overall brand reappraisal.


Soggy. Limp. Kept in a cupboard. That’s how Twitter described KFC fries. So, what better place to start a conversation about new KFC fries than on Twitter. We decided to react to the abuse in a way no other brand had done before. In a social media first, we did the unthinkable; we paid to promote the hate.

At first people were a little confused, had we made a monumental mistake? But soon people began to catch on and they couldn’t get enough of our transparent approach. Once we had people’s attention, we used traditional media to amplify the hype, blowing up the abuse in outdoor and national press.


The overall campaign was targeted at existing KFC fans and anyone who had ever tried KFC fries. Looking to behavioural economics, we realised we had a loss aversion problem. It wasn’t that loyal fans didn’t like our new fries, they also didn’t like the idea of losing the old ones. It meant talking to the new fries benefits alone wouldn’t cut it. In order to tackle this, we had to first acknowledge the old fries failings. To pave the way for the new fries to be seen as the saviour of ‘soggy’, we had to negatively reposition or old fries to our loyal fans - we had to tell people that our old fries were bad. So taking honesty as the best policy, we put money behind the online critics. This approach was purposefully provocative, we wanted to make fries a hot topic of conversation, which they rarely are.


We launched with a Tweet campaign from 1st- 4th November 2018 on Twitter targeting KFC fans, QSR users and people who had mentioned fries or chips. This projected 3m impressions. On 5th November we published a provocative press ad which ran in The Sun & Metro (reaching a national audience) as well as OOH – with the hate blown up large. Then effectively retargeting that audience with sequential ads in the same publications revealing that ‘New Fries’ were here. Finally from 5th-19th November, we released our ‘New Fries’ taste messaging. This last phase utilised national screens and kiosks, equalling a 25% Share of Voice in QSR category and social targeting (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter) with a projected 13.9m impressions.


The first time a brand has paid to promote a negative Tweet, and it worked.

Reached 1/3 of UK Twitter users, from 500k engagements.

News articles seen by 25 million, and was the most read article on the BBC on the day of launch.

Created the highest spike in positive buzz the brand had seen that year (YouGov).

Prompted awareness of the new fries reached well above the 50% target to 62%. This is a 38% point increase from the 2017, pre campaign test.

Improved taste scores across every measure for those aware of the campaign

Led to an uplift in Q4 ‘Fast Good’ brand scores vs Q4 2017 scores: Relevance (+3%), Generosity (+4%), Trust worthiness (+4%), Quality food (+1%).

Penetration increased from pre to post campaign versus the same period in 2017.

Gained over 669,100 more buyers through this campaign.

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