Chickened Out

26 February 2018 | Lloyd Hughes

KFC has endured a terrible week in the news.

Having opted to switch its choice of delivery firm, the restaurant chain was surely ruing that decision, as a logistics nightmare saw most of its UK outlets left without chicken. For a brand originally known as Kentucky Fried Chicken, this is as close to disaster as it could get.

Customers clearly felt it was a bona fide disaster as police had to put out a message on Twitter advising the public that a lack of chicken at KFC wasn’t an emergency, so to stop calling them. Seriously.

The mind boggles.

Of course, there was widespread outcry all over social media and indeed the main stream media, with one woman lamenting the fact she had to go to Burger King on national television.

There was a neat opportunity here, which led to Burger King smartly jumping on the PR bandwagon by offering chicken related discounts to really rub KFC’s face in it, while also asking social media to track down the woman in question so it could provide her with a year’s supply of chicken strips.

The bad PR for KFC has continued into this week too though, with 220lbs of chicken found dumped on the roadside – apparently left by a delivery driver who’d had the consignment refused at a nearby branch.

With the new distributor named as DHL, the firm has also been left in the proverbial PR sh*t.

DHL executives must be tearing their hair out. Although the headlines have very much centred on KFC (which has admirably refused to shift the blame), I don’t think there’ll be too many other food outlets looking to pin their hopes on the slickness of DHL’s logistical operation.

I can only imagine there are some seriously heated high level conversations going on – with the financial fallout from the debacle no doubt eye watering. Is DHL going to pick up the monetary repercussions of the closure of 600 out of 900 UK stores? I dread to think what figure the missed revenue (combined with ongoing wages for non-working employees) will end up at.

The actual reasons behind the delivery breakdown haven’t been disclosed, which leaves DHL firmly steeped in the mire until some light is shed (where it might end up somewhat exonerated, in fairness). But KFC, on the other hand, has actually handled the situation extremely well, apologising forthrightly in adverts and striking the right tone on social media.

As long as the transport fiasco doesn’t happen again, then I’m fairly certain KFC will actually emerge enhanced from the situation. With people realising just how much they love a KFC, the brand has no doubt had a swathe of orders as its restaurants have reopened.

I can probably count on my fingers the amount of KFCs I’ve had in my life, yet even I was tempted when I realised they were off the menu. You always want what you can’t have, after all. But while I personally won’t be rushing to the store (the metabolism of a sloth tends to keep fast food out of my day-to-day diet), I’m sure there are many out there who will.

So it’s a mix of good and bad PR for KFC, really, but I’m sure its senior staff will be glad to put the past week firmly behind them.