Why KFC’s “I Ate the Bones” Campaign was a Bad Idea

KFC_Ate_the_bonesHave you seen the Kentucky Fried Chicken commercials for their “I Ate the Bones” campaign? It’s for their latest type of boneless chicken wing.

At its base, it does make at least some vague sort of sense. But in reality, it’s another one of those marketing techniques that is backfiring terribly due to the way people are using social media.

Almost immediately after the commercials aired and even encouraged KFC patrons to use the Twitter hashtag of #Iatethebones, the campaign was assaulted. Many people started to tweet links to animal rights videos and even pictures of Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal Lecter. There was also a meme of people choking on chicken bones. In other words, this was a campaign that got the wrong sort of attention.

Sure, it’s hilarious, but those images and videos are now liked intimately with the KFC brand.

You have to give KFC credit for trying. They even went so far as to tweet the following: Fill in the blank.  “My first bite of boneless was ________.”

As you can imagine, the internet went crazy. From pornography jokes to cannibalism references, this was one campaign that was beaten to death. One Twitter user even went so far as to tweet: “They’ll never find that girl’s body.”

Needless to say, if you want something funny to read, you aren’t going to get much better than the Twitter responses to the “I ate the bones” hashtags.

The sad thing of it is that KFC seems to have the fundamentals of engaging with their online audience down very well. This was just one campaign that was doomed from the start even though many people do in fact enjoy boneless chicken wings.

Odder still is the fact that the reputation of the KFC brand itself didn’t appear to suffer from the poorly planned campaign.

What are some other recent popular campaigns that you have seen that weren’t bad as an initial concept was but just executed poorly?

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