Cannes Lions

KFC x Street Fighter

COURAGE, Toronto / KFC / 2024

Awards:

1 Shortlisted Cannes Lions
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Overview

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Overview

Background

On June 23rd, Street Fighter 6 launched in North America to much fanfare. With over 2 million games sold by July, it has quickly solidified itself in culture as one of the biggest games of 2023.

As the seventh installment of the Street Fighter series, SF6 boasts a number of new features, including a powerful character creator—called Recipes—that allows you to customize your own avatar on World Tour. What’s more, they are used by the gaming community to create iconic avatar looks, including the Terminator, Harley Quinn, Ice Spice, Mario, Drake and more.

Our brief: hijack this cultural moment by activating KFC’s most valuable asset and become the most talked about brand on Street Fighter 6.

Idea

Recipes have always been a part of KFC’s DNA – from its original recipe to its secret recipe. With this well established brand association in mind, we created a recipe of our own – Chef Colonel Sanders. Using the game’s in-depth character creator, we created a playable version of the Colonel, unlocking his iconic wardrobe and giving him a Street Fighter aesthetic to go pound for pound with characters like Ryu, Guile and Akuma.

But like any great brand activation, we needed a reason for Street Fighter fans to do it – a value exchange that not only rewarded them for their efforts, but was authentic to the game itself. This prompted us to introduce KFC’s first ever in-game promotion, encouraging gamers to turn their attack combos into KFC combos.

Strategy

Consumer data shows that nearly two-thirds of gamers order take-out food from quick-service restaurants, and nearly a third eat fast food once a week. And while KFC holds nostalgia for older generations, it struggles to connect to the younger ones. Seen as outdated, KFC risks significant declines if it doesn't stay culturally relevant with Gen-Z.

Our strategy? Enter the gaming space. And that wasn't going to be a traditional ad buy, so we had to engage with the gaming community in a real way.

As the unofficial partner of Street Fighter 6, infiltrating the game would serve as a low-budget way to make KFC’s most distinctive asset, Colonel Sanders, a part of gaming culture. All while engaging the gamers who seek out code reveals and thrive on finding new ways to experience their favorite game.

Execution

To launch, we pushed organic posts across KFC’s social channels, engaging over 500k followers to play as Chef Colonel himself. In just 2 hours, it became KFC’s most shared video, with thousands reacting to the Street Fighterized version of Colonel Sanders with comments like: “KFC hadoukened the internet,” and even tagging famous celebrities that he resembled, like Seth Rogen and Guillermo Del Toro.

Because the majority of gamers share clips of their gameplay online, we knew platforms like Twitch, Twitter and Instagram would be our battleground for success. So, we incentivized gamers to screen record themselves using the Chef Sanders recipe, do a combo, and tag ‘@kfc_canada’ for the colonel’s original recipe chicken. The harder the combo, the better the deal.

The campaign quickly picked up PR, getting the attention of prominent Twitch streamers. Some even using SF6’s intricate wardrobe selection to create their own versions of the Colonel.

Outcome

The results of the campaign were astounding. By authentically tapping into a culturally relevant moment, KFC generated a whopping $16,135,600 in Earned Media Value (EMV). Moreover, our engagement amongst gamers was evident: over 2,203 combos served.

And the campaign didn’t just generate buzz and engagement, it actually drove sales. Immediately following our launch, KFC Canada saw a tangible 8% sales lift. And we achieved all of this for a $0 media investment.

By hacking Street Fighter 6 with our most distinctive brand asset (aka the Colonel), KFC has positioned itself at the forefront of modern gaming culture, offering Street Fighter 6 fans a finger kickin’ good experience.

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