June! Summer's finally here!
June! Summer's finally here!
Cart 0

KFC Marketers – Genius or KFCuckoo?

KFC Marketing parenthood

A couple of days ago, KFC tweeted that they're giving $11,000 to the first baby born on the 9th of September who is named Harland. Harland (in case you didn't know), is the name of KFC's founder. The $11k will have to be spent towards the new Harland's college tuition.

Let me just repeat, for clarity:

If your baby is born on the 9th of September, and you call him Harland AND if he's the first baby on that day, called Harland AND he goes to college, he'll get $11,000.

Why $11,000? I'm not telling you, because I don't want to promote KFC any more than I'm doing right now... (I hope I'm not arousing your curiousity!).

The Fried Chicken Tweets

The tweet, from KFC's official handle, was on the 29th of August, and came with a video. I must admit, it is actually quite humourous.

So, is this marketing genius, or just a chicken gone cuckoo? Well, let's go through the bad and the good.


This is the equivalent of buying a heavily discounted car, which is covered in advertising. Except in this case it's a human, and he's advertising chicken.

The whole thing is so distasteful, it's almost completely unpalatable (all puns intended). When you first think about it, you think “what on earth..?”.

And you know that KFC themselves knew it was in poor taste, and that's why they put the $11k towards college specifically. Just to give it that positive spin. And I think that's the saviour, which turns this stunt from cuckoo to genius.


Needless to say, the stunt sticks out, and at $11,000, is quite cheap. The idea to name your child after the founder of KFC, also creates ambassadors for life (“Harland... how did you get that name?”, “Oh, it's a funny story...”). They could even follow the child around (with the parents' consent one hopes) over many years, to have a story to keep telling. The potential benefit can span many years.

Of course, the other side of the coin is that all the Harlands that don't get the $11k, might well be angry for life and never set foot in a KFC. But well... you know the saying “no such thing as bad publicity”.

The Parents

And what about the parents that do this for their child? Well, the $11k is for their child's tuition. In a way, they're being quite unselfish. They're giving the child (trying to give the child) $11k, that he otherwise wouldn't have. And their intention is, that he goes to college (another plus). It's not like they're taking $11k and spending it on McDonalds...

When you think of all the arguments parents have had over the years about what to name their children, it doesn't come across as all that bad.

(“Richard? No way we're going with Richard! I knew a guy called Richard and he was a complete... dork”).

At least here, the arguments the parents will have may deliver a tangible benefit. The parents' intentions are likely to be noble.


The idea is just naughty enough to get people going “oh no”, but they've put quite a positive spin on it. Whatever you say to them, they can throw back “we're helping a kid go to college” which is a decent argument.

Meanwhile, this campaign will make a lot of noise, and I just can't see people not going to KFC because of this stunt. It's quite low, morally speaking, but I believe quite effective. The marketing guy who thought of this, will almost certainly be getting a raise...

Older Post Newer Post

Leave a comment