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KFC-Oprah promotion backfires

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Sunday May 10, 2009 (foodconsumer.org) -- In a promotion financed by KFC, Oprah Winfrey offered a fee chicken dinner coupon on her website; the response was overwhelming. One analyst interviewed on CNN.com referred to the frenzy as the result of a “perfect storm”: Oprah’s influence coupled with the economic downturn.

In response, some KFC restaurants had lines so long they ran out of chicken. Some didn’t honor the requests, and still others tried to do their best to appease those customers who had to be turned away.

Ten million of the coupons were downloaded; four million have been redeemed thus far, and the company plans to issue 6.5 million rain checks, a move applauded by Harpo. 

Even Oprah was amazed at the unprecedented response, saying it surpassed viewer reaction over her free car giveaway.

According to MyFox Spokane, KFC isn’t the only large company to come under fire for their online, promotional efforts. Dr. Pepper, Starbucks, and Quizno’s can all feel KFC’s coupon pain. 

But President Roger Eaton is putting a positive spin on the situation: “Clearly, America loves the taste of Kentucky Grilled Chicken." He’s also throwing in a free cup of Pepsi with the rain check coupons. 

Current Allstate commercials refer to a phenomenon that occurred during the Great Depression; as the reality of the crisis began to truly sink in, Americans became reacquainted with the “simple things” in life. Evidently, if the recent Oprah-KFC incident is any indication, the current economic crisis has similarly made consumers appreciate the basics -- such as a free chicken dinner.

(By Rachel Stockton)


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