Fast-Food Brands Cook Up Oddball Promotions to Score PR Coups
You probably thought the Barbenheimer public relations push was over the top, but Subway and KFC have two new promotions that may stretch ad norms even further. The stakes are high in the Subway promotion: free sandwiches for life. For KFC Canada, the funeral is for its old, sub-par French fries. (Barbenheimer, in case you’re one of the three people in North America who missed it, was the marketing term that launched when two blockbuster movies, Barbie and Oppenheimer, premiered a couple of weekends back.)
So, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty of the Subway and KFC deals.
Subway’s Name Change Contest
If someone legally changes his or her first name to Subway, that person will be rewarded with Deli Hero submarine sandwiches for life. U.S. adults are eligible to enter the contest. That’s 18 or older in most states, but 19 and up in Alabama and Nebraska, and 21 and older in Mississippi, NBC noted in an article.
The contest will run Aug. 1-4 at www.subwaynamechange.com. Only one entrant can walk away with the prize, and the winner will be chosen at random. Subway has pledged to pay the winner’s legal fees for the name change.
In announcing the contest last week, Subway pointed out that last year “one superfan camped out for two days to get a footlong tattoo of the Subway Series logo in exchange for free Subway for life.” That superfan was James Kunz, who appeared on the Today show to explain why he got the tattoo. “When I was a teenager, I was still kind of chunky,” he said at the time. But he began to work out and get healthier and ate Subway food in the process. “Because of that, I have kind of a brand loyalty.”
Publicity for Deli Hero Sandwiches
And now another lifetime-of-free-sandwiches giveaway is helping to promote Subway’s new process of slicing sandwich meats online for a fresher approach to preparation. This Deli Hero line is “one of the most complex changes the brand has ever made,” according to CNN. Subway says it has invested $80 million-plus in meat slicers and installed them in more than 20,000 of its restaurants.
Subway says it already has sold more than 2 million Deli Heroes since they debuted on July 11, CNN reported. The Deli Heroes sandwiches are: The Beast, Garlic Roast Beef, Grand Slam Ham and Titan Turkey, according to an NBC article. Two of the sandwiches, the Titan Turkey and Grand Slam Ham, have 33% more meat than traditional. Subway subs, according to a People magazine report. The Garlic Roast Beef contains a hefty half-pound of meat.
KFC’s ‘Fry Funeral’
In its semi-wacko publicity push, KFC Canada has finally bowed to customer complaints. Diners have been railing against the soggy, blah-tasting fries for years, according to a report in Thedrum.com. Last Thursday, the fast-food franchise hosted what it called a Fry Funeral on Toronto streets. Consumers paid their “frynal” respects while a branded hearse, which held a casket filled with French fries, rolled along.
In their place, KFC Canada has ushered in seasoned fries pronounced “crispy and seasoned enough to satisfy our toughest critics.” For a limited time, they will cost just $1 at restaurants, on KFC.ca and on the KFC App, according to Ad Age.
“We knew that Canadians hated our old fries, and we saw this as an opportunity to show our fans we hear them by changing up this menu item and launching it in a fun way,” said Azim Akhtar, director of marketing at KFC Canada.
KFC Live-Streaming on Aug. 1
And it has worked out well for KFC Canada. Social media buzzed with millions checking out teaser previews ahead of the funeral, and KFC fans also have posted their thanks for the menu upgrade. But that’s not all: At noon Eastern Daylight Time on Aug. 1, the old fries will move to their final resting place in a live-streamed service complete with a eulogy.
It may seem abnormal for a brand to publicize substandard food, but Akhtar defended the move by saying, “the KFC brand is all about being bold and fun. This satirical campaign allows us to introduce an exciting new product that we’re proud of, while making light of a product that wasn’t as beloved by Canadians.”
Dhaval Bhatt, chief creative officer of Courage, the ad agency behind the fry-funeral concept, didn’t soft-pedal the criticism. “Canadians rated KFC Old Fries as the lowest-rated fry in the nation. Naturally something needed to change. When we heard KFC Canada reference the old box as The Fry Coffin, we saw an opportunity to really send the not-so-beloved spuds off in a big way. And what’s bigger than a public funeral procession throughout the streets of Toronto?”