YORK ON ADS / No 9: KFC

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The Independent Culture
WHAT is this thing called KFC? A model car for boy racers? A Sega game? In just 10 seconds the current Kentucky Fried Chicken commercial shows you all the problems of pioneering a market, getting 'knocked off' by lookalike operators and falling out of fashion. The issue for Kentucky Fried Chicken is that difficult word 'Fried', not the ideal description for a fast-food offering in an age when people don't want to be forcibly reminded of fat. It means you can't take advantage of the healthy associations of chicken. And, come to think of it, Chicken is a bit of a limitation too when McDonald's can peddle anything from Chinese to pizza.

There's even a problem with Kentucky. The fact is that in every other secondary shopping street in Anytown there are operators called, say, Virginia Fried Chicken which look very like the old Kentucky set-up but don't have the marketing costs and quality controls of a global operation.

The answer is to re-brand, redesign and to say we're different now. And to beat the drum about value because you're in danger of being undercut.

The KFC commercial has to do all this very fast. The strategy is pretty transparent. Some jazzy graphics render KFC as K-now, Fantastic and Costing for great meal deals. A cheery KFC assistant - just slightly Goldie Hawn - says you get it all at 'today's KFC'(always a giveaway word for a repositioning), then draws down a blind with the new KFC logo on it - giant initials and a sadly shrunken Colonel Sanders. 'Great value never tasted so good,' says the voice-over in light unidentifiable airline American - absolutely no South-

ern vowels. It sounds as if 'finger-lickin' good' is gone forever. Peter York

Tapes supplied by Tellex Commercials.

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