Garfield's AdReview: KFC crowed about an effort that turned out to be a turkey

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When last we checked in with KFC two years back, the new positioning was slow-cooked goodness that made fast-food burgers look comparatively gross. And the spokesman was Jason Alexander.

We said he was the wrong guy delivering the wrong message. We said that the massive ad spending would build some traffic and stimulate some trial. We said that those customers would eventually soak enough napkins with enough grease that the "we're not fast food" positioning would be rendered laughable and KFC would be right back where it started.

Six months later, a gloating executive from BBDO, New York, passed along some KFC sales-growth figures, and asked us if perhaps we'd like to eat our words-regular or extra crispy. We said not so fast; let's wait for nature to take its course.

Well, here's what's happened since: same-store sales tanked, at one point declining nine months in a row, and Alexander is on his way out the door. So who's gloating now?

Why... it's us!

The Jason Alexander campaign was such a mistake that it long ago ceased being the Jason Alexander campaign. His utility devolved into being just a prop for a slew of semi-celebrities like Evan Marriott and Trista Rehm, temporarily famous for their tele-dilemmas. In the spots, they were faced with a choice of tempting KFC products and were just plain stymied.

Ha ha.

The latest and apparently last of these tortured and embarrassing vignettes features star golfer Annika Sorenstam, who has briefly become famous outside of the golfing world by playing a men's pro tournament.

Annika: "Should I play it safe, or go for it?"

Jason: "I'd say, either way, Annika. KFC honey-barbecued wings or new boneless wings. You've competed with the ladies and the men. Do both."

Voice-over: "One great taste, two great choices! New KFC boneless wings with whole pieces of 100% breast meat glazed with our honey-barbecue sauce, or honey-barbecue wings with the same great flavor all the way to the bone. Now get 7 for $2.99 or 20 for $7.99."

Annika: "Now everyone can do both."

Jason: "Do you think I could make it on the women's circuit?"

Annika: "No."

Her dismissive "no" is the commercial's single redeeming moment (although it has nothing on Wayne Gretzky's 1988 "no" to Bo Jackson for Nike). Everything else is just stiffly performed idiocy. If Sorenstam has charisma, or even the capacity to utter lines, it is not on display here. It is not funny. It is not witty. It is not surprising. It is not revealing. It's just dumb- and just the latest egregious example of a clueless marketer chasing transitory celebrity without any thought whatsoever to relevance, of which Sorenstam's casting reflects almost none.

Yeah, a Swedish woman golfer... we're sure she resonates with KFC's core audience.

It remains to be seen whether KFC will acquire some sense and position the brand for what it is: the perfect bucket of death-on-a-wishbone for a luscious, cardiovascularly incorrect food orgy. Meantime, we're just sad the current campaign has to end. We're sure Jessica Lynch would have been fabulous.


BBDO, New York

Ad Review Rating: 1.5 stars

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