KFC U.S. is looking for a new ad agency after working with Wieden+Kennedy Portland on creative and media, a move that comes as the agency is undergoing its own overhaul.
“We have informed W+K Portland that we are putting the KFC U.S. creative and media business up for review,” KFC said in a statement. “Since 2015, W+K has been a valuable part of our brand turnaround, creating memorable campaigns that grew brand consideration and sales. We are proud of what we have achieved together. As we look toward the next chapter of growth for KFC U.S., we must have the right partners in place to help us continue our momentum. W+K Portland will have the opportunity to compete to retain KFC business.”
A W+K spokeswoman confirmed the review and said the agency will participate. “We love this brand and the work we’ve done together. We are excited to seize the opportunity and see what could be next,” the spokeswoman told Ad Age.
SRI is the search consultant. KFC plans to run separate reviews for media and creative.
The U.S. is a critical piece of KFC’s overall business, accounting for 18% of KFC’s sales in 2020, behind China, its largest market with 27% of sales. The review comes as the chain's U.S. systemwide sales are on the rise: They increased 11% in the first six months of 2021 while its same-store sales, a key metric that tracks performance at longstanding locations, rose 12%. According to two people familiar with the review, despite these sales, KFC's average customer continues to get older and the brand is looking for a partner to help reach younger audiences.
KFC’s U.S. systemwide sales also increased last year, albeit at a slower clip than chicken leader Chick-fil-A and its other main rival Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, which is slightly smaller than KFC in terms of overall sales.