KFC Canada takes a brand-forward approach with ‘Love at First Bite’

KFC Canada is launching its largest campaign in more than five years as part of what chief marketing officer Katherine Bond-Debicki describes as a shift towards more “brand-forward” work with a greater emphasis on “insightful storytelling.”

The global “Love at First Bite” campaign debuted in Canada last week, with a media buy from Wavemaker that is expected to reach more than 90% of Canadians through a combination of TV/cinema, out-of-home and influencer marketing.

“It’s one of our most ambitious plans over a summer period, ever,” said Bond-Debicki, adding the company hopes to see lift in both consideration and brand health.

The campaign is also designed to help KFC stand out from its competitors in the QSR space, where chicken has become a busy battleground and consumers are “bombarded” with advertising that tends to prioritize promotional offers and LTOs.

“KFC is an incredibly powerful brand: We have a real story, a real founder, and food that’s just so distinctive and truly connects with the people who eat it,” said Bond-Debicki.

The new campaign puts KFC’s products literally front and centre, with a 30-second video ad showing people eagerly anticipating that first bite—whether it’s a KFC chicken tender, a classic bone-in drumstick, or one of its sandwiches. It’s soundtracked by a super-smooth but obscure 1970s song by a band called Greenflow named “I Got’Cha” (in which the title phrase and “do-do-do-do-doo” comprise the entirety of its lyrics).

Consumer research showed that the instant right before the first bite is one of the so-called “peak moments” for the brand’s fans, with people actually searching for the best spot on a food item to take that first bite. “We’ve always known that we’ve won on taste, but what we started to really dig into was mapping out the power of every micro-moment in the KFC journey,” said Bond-Debicki.

“When we really zoomed in on the eating journey, what we discovered is that the moment right before someone dives in for their first bite of KFC is actually one of the peak moments: We see anticipation dial up, that sensory experience come to the fore, and we see craving ignited.”

Subsequent executions, particularly in out-of-home, will use super close-up shots of KFC chicken in all of its crispy, crevice-y, golden glory, while influencer content will focus on the anticipation and satisfaction that follows that first bite, said Bond-Debicki.

The campaign is also designed to help KFC win in what Bond-Debicki describes as “boneless eating”—the tenders and sandwiches that tend to be favoured by younger consumers. “We want to win there, just as much as we win on buckets and chicken on the bone.”

At the same time, it’s addressing the evolving expectations of QSR consumers in a marketplace increasingly defined by an abundance of high-quality offerings. “QSR used to be determined by convenience and price,” she said. “I do think they are absolute fundamentals, but people want goodness, and they want to know they have a product that isn’t factory formed.”

While John St. has been KFC’s Canadian AOR since 2019, the creative approach for this campaign was developed by Mother London. The video debuted in other markets in April, but started running on Canadian broadcast on Monday (July 4).

Mother has produced several high-profile campaigns for the brand in the U.K. in recent years, including the “We’re Sorry” print ads addressing a chicken shortage that won a Gold Lion in Cannes in 2018, and a spot emphasizing the chicken’s “finger lickin’ good” slogan that was pulled shortly after the pandemic took hold.

Chris Powell