Updated: Jun 19, 2019
“Pull up on the block in a drop-top chicken box, Mr K.F.C, V.V’S is in the watch”
I wonder if that lyric above sounds familiar to you? If you’re into US Hip Hop, I’m sure if you try to sing it out loud you can probably make out the melody. I’ll give you a few seconds more………...perhaps it’s a lyric by Rick Ross on “Aston Martin Music”. Damn, that song was a real vibe but that's besides the point, as you probably know the reason I’m here is because the boss himself name dropped K.F.C whilst still keeping it cool. However, Rick Ross isn’t the only one - many other rappers have name dropped and referenced K.F.C in their lyrics in rap history. Let’s take it back to “You be Illin” by Run DMC, “Touch the Sky” by Kanye West or even more recently, Kendrick Lamar in “Duckworth”. Or even some of our very own homegrown tracks from the likes of Hardy Caprio, Suli Breaks and Lotto Boyz. They all referenced KFC at some point during their songs & I know you’re probably thinking who is even paying attention to these things? Well, who else but KFC themselves!
The Chicken Connoisseurs in France have curated a Spotify playlist for many of the rap bangers that has referenced them in the history of rap. To make things a bit more interesting they developed a whole campaign revolving around the playlist called “Bucket Bangers” which resulted in them promoting it across Spotify banners and ads across Paris. Sick right! Well they surely got my attention and to be quite frank, it's not the first time. This year alone KFC has managed to find themselves at the centre of quite a bit of drama. Last year in February they had the streets going crazy because they ran out of chicken and later responded with a “FCK” advert as an apology; rearranging the “KFC” acronym to publicly express their regret.
The KFC "Bucket Bangers" Spotify Playlist Source: Spotify
From what I’ve seen KFC is that friend that doesn’t hold back on their feelings but at the same time isn’t afraid to admit their mistakes. It was no different when supermarket chain Morrisons revealed their fried chicken sharing platter rival to KFC’s 8-piece boneless feast. At just £10 which is £5.99 cheaper than the KFC version, Morrison announced it’s limited availability at 392 Morrison cafes. With the media picking it up as something to brag about, comparing its price point to the fried chicken giants, KFC took no prisoners with a quote retweeting an article with the image attached stating “Yeah, but look at it…” They completely shut it down, dragged it through the mud and felt no way about it. Remind me never attempt to drag KFC on social media please! A spokesman for the fast food chain said it was “flattered by the comparison”.
KFC's response to The Sun's post about Morrisons new fried chicken platter Source: Twitter
I guess KFC aren’t the ones to mess with! So why does everyone want a piece of them? The answer to that lies in their latest advert “Chicken Town”. Riding through the streets with the Godfather theme tune as the soundtrack, Colonel Harland Sanders takes a trip through chicken town visually calling out all the KFC imitators for their attempt to be like the originals. Portraying themselves as the gangster of fast food chains in a gritty but cinematic approach, they made it known that they’re flattered by the attempts but anyone who tries will always come up short. How harsh! To add fuel to the fire they also produced a billboard campaign “From AFC-ZFC” collecting the logos of every three-letter imitator along with a simple but effective copy stating “Guys, we’re flattered”.
KFC's advert "Chicken Town" Source: KFC UK&I Youtube Channel
If you ask me, KFC is way ahead of the game. They’ve made their stamp within youth/popular culture and they do it well. In fact, in the “Chicken Town” advert the colonel cruised through the streets of Peckham amongst many other well known streets, & managed to catch the attention of a gangster rapper from Peckham “Killa Ki” who decided to create his own spoof adaption of the advert. This was the same street that starred in Nike’s infamous “Nothing beats a Londoner” advert last year where Peckham rapper Giggs also made his appearance. Like Nike, KFC’s strategies doesn’t just show that they’re able to tap into the culture effectively but also shows how relevant they are and how good they are at maintaining it.
Killa Ki's spoof of KFC's "Chicken Town" advert Source: @peckhammadekillaki
Throughout some of the research we've encountered whilst working with brands, we've identified a number of factors that brands should be using when tapping into Gen Z and millennial audiences. Controversy and humour happens to be one of them and I believe KFC have become well-versed in this area whilst not taking themselves too seriously. My final advice for any brand hoping to be as culturally relevant as KFC are is to think about how you can authentically tap into a culture that resonates with your brand identity without compromising it in any sort of way.