A while back I posted about the 3-Steps in the CMO’s life cycle: ReBrand, ReLaunch and Resign. I was reminded of those three steps while reading about the battle going on between KFC (formerly known as Kentucky Fried Chicken) and a significant portion of its franchisees.
As you may have noticed, a while back KFC corporate decided to reposition KFC into the grilled chicken market. (I guess they figured if you turned the word Fried into “F” then you could also change the menu and its focus.)
To put it bluntly, grilled chicken has been a disaster … as far as the franchisees are concerned. Same store sales are off 7% and grilled chicken is only about 16% of chicken “on the bone” sales. Apparently the refocus (relaunch) has been on grilled chicken and sandwiches over the traditional Kentucky FRIED Chicken. The reason is because Yum! Brands (the corporate parent of KFC) claims they are trying to reach the health-conscious, on-the-go consumer. To which one of their franchisees responded, “…it’s one thing to be behind the big mahogany desk calling the shots and another to be down here in the trenches.”
This just reinforces a John Le Carre quote I have used for years to remind marketers where they need to spend their time: “A desk is a dangerous place from which to watch the world.”
Did you know this month is the 70th anniversary of Original Recipe Kentucky FRIED Chicken? Me neither. Apparently the corporate office didn’t think it worthy of a promotion.
I am not against necessary repositioning. Some are highly successful. Most notably the Marlboro cigarette brand. However, Kentucky Fried Chicken held a strong brand position. The world did not need it to be repositioned. Sure, some people prefer grilled chicken. They eat elsewhere. As Ries and Trout taught us many years ago … take a #1 position in the customer’s mind and hold it. Why did the corporate office think they needed a new position? Franchisees weren’t clamoring for it, and the public’s reaction indicates that they were right.
Maybe the franchisees will get lucky and the people responsible for this rebrand and relaunch will now resign.