FCK Ad – When KFC Chose Not To Kick The Bucket Over

FCK Ad – When KFC Chose Not To Kick The Bucket Over

I’ve already written about the problem UK KFC restaurants faced earlier this year when they ran out of chicken. I know, a fast food restaurant that built their brand around chicken is well, several pieces short of a bucket when the supply dries up.

That was the dilemma. Or at least it was at first blush.

Luckily the crew behind the marketing of the iconic brand embraced the obviously painful truth, which shut several outlets down until the birds returned, and turned it into a genius campaign. I’m not kidding, running out of chicken could easily have become a PR nightmare but it was not on the menu.

The marketing department at Mother London probably fired off several obscenities when they were first tasked with the job of crafting an honest and clear apology ad to appear across the UK. After all, honesty is the best policy and no doubt a few f-bombs were dropped in and around the drawing board.

Then it happened.

The honesty in coming up with an apology for the matter, in a room filled with f-bombs, turned into a sincere and tongue-in-cheek jab at the branding of the product.

Instantly KFC became ‘FCK’ and why not?


What the crew at Mother London did not expect was to earn the respect of their peers for just laying it out there. At the Cannes Lions, the UK KFC FCK Campaign gave the ad agency a gold Lions Award in the PR and Print Category. I’m sure they didn’t see that coming, much like KFC didn’t see the chicken tap run dry when it did.

According to Mother London creative director Hermeti Balarin, they knew the situation “was very serious” but when the team came out from behind closed doors with the FCK concept, there was some fear of it being viewed as offensive to some.

Mother London CMO Meg Farren explains that after passing the campaign concept past one of the lawyers on their legal team, they knew they had a winner.

“She just instantly smiled.”

It was because of that response that Mother London felt that all anyone could do in the chicken shortage situation was to accept it and not flap their wings about it.

“We just knew, people were going to smile at this,” Farren adds.

As a fan of KFC I have to admit that I found the apology ad amusing and also brave. But what I liked most about it was that it was creative. The ad agency took a potentially bad situation and turned it into a funny, but honest apology.

In a way, it was raw but something most of us could relate to. You know, that moment when you hit your finger with a hammer and you just have to let out a well-timed f-bomb to relieve some of the pressure.

The happy ending with KFC is that the chicken shortage was not a long-term thing and the brand increased its exposure as a result of a brilliant spin on the product name. This became nothing short of a win-win for everyone involved.

And it also scored an award!

Credit: Mother London
Credit: Adweek