Amidst scandals and flatlining profits, KFC is now seeking salvation through celebrity endorsements. Run by Ogilvy Shanghai, they feature A-listers like Taiwan’s Ke Zhendong promoting new menu items. Because who cares if the ice is dirtier than toilet water and the chicken harbors illicit hormones when that guy from Tiny Times eats it (aka probably doesn’t in real life), right? Adage.com reports:
It features Ke Zhendong, an actor and heartthrob with more than 29 million Weibo fans, plugging chicken burgers with the pickup line, “I can’t buy you a castle, but I can buy you a burger.” The humor is lost a bit in translation, but castle and burger share a Chinese character (video below).
Model-actor Zhang Liang touts rice-based dishes, while spunky singer Momo Wu plugs snacks (she’s the only woman of the bunch.)
In a recent campaign done by another agency, Mr. Ke and actor-singer Chen Kun (he of the 72 million Weibo followers) presided over a contest between original recipe and extra crispy chicken. KFC has said that contest racked up 20 million social votes, with the original recipe winning.
Ke Zhendong plugging chicken burgers.
Says Graham Fink, Ogilvy & Mather’s chief creative officer for greater China: “Celebrities are often used as a quick and easy way to sell products in China. I think that more and more people are beginning to see through this ‘cheap’ tactic, and the brand will ultimately suffer as a result. But if the celeb seems “genuinely involved in the message they become more believable, and this is what we are trying to do with KFC.”
You know, like getting Chen Xiao, who plays a warrior monk on TV, to ditch his whole ascetic shtick and sell desserts. But we digress.
As we’ve seen in the past, even a mention of fried chicken on a TV show that’s popular in China, can do wonders for sales. In fact, “My Love From a Star’s” endorsements are apparently so powerful they can give you a heart attack before you eat the fried chicken.
KFC is supplementing celebrity endorsements with a revamp of its menu and design.
KFC’s celebrity A-team (Chen Kun, Ke Zhendong, Momo Wu, Zhang Liang) in action.