KFC Canada sinks its teeth into Halloween

KFC Canada is freaking out over Halloween, updating its famous “It’s Finger Lickin’ Good” slogan for a food-ordering occasion that hasn’t previously been part of its marketing plans.

Working with agency partner Narrative (with Wavemaker for media), the chicken chain has temporarily changed its iconic slogan to “It’s Freaky Finger Lickin’ Good,” and is supporting the update with a series of spooky creative assets appearing on its social channels and digital out-of-home across Canada.

Other than being temporarily blurred out as part of a pandemic-themed campaign in 2020, “It’s Finger Lickin’ Good” has remained unchanged since being coined by one of KFC’s restaurant managers in the 1950s. It’s as much as part of the brand’s identity as the Colonel, 11 herbs and spices, and its distinctive buckets (which are also part of the QSR’s Halloween marketing plan).

“We feel there’s a way to ensure we continue to remain relevant with consumers by having that flexibility with some of our most iconic assets during relevant moments,” said KFC Canada’s director of marketing, Azim Akhtar. “Halloween felt like a perfect opportunity to do that.”

This represents KFC Canada’s first marketing developed specifically for Halloween which has emerged as a major food-ordering occasion.

According to a 2020 report by DoorDash in the U.S., Halloween was its third busiest ordering day behind only Mother’s Day and New Year’s Eve, with the average number of deliveries per restaurant location rising 7% over the previous year.

And while pizza tends to be the most popular food delivery option at Halloween, KFC saw a 5% increase in ordering across digital channels last Halloween.

Akhtar said that KFC made the decision to test a Halloween-specific marketing plan in order to determine if it can  boost sales beyond the organic growth seen in previous years.

“We thought this would be a great opportunity to remind Canadians ‘Hey, there are other options you can choose from that are Finger Lickin’ Good and will satisfy all your cravings,” he said. “It’s a great opportunity to be relevant in a key moment, test it out to see how consumers react, and then determine if it will be a long-term strategy for us that we’ll continue to invest in year after year.

“We thought it would be a great way to introduce some of these initiatives and then blow it out in the future if it performs well.”

KFC is also running a series of video ads featuring archetypal Halloween monsters such as a vampire, a witch, and a mummy, all reaching for its chicken products, accompanied by the updated tagline. Another video is promoting a limited glow-in-the-dark green bucket perfect for trick-or-treating it is giving away through a social media contest.

And no, said Akhtar, trick or treaters won’t have to awkwardly cradle the bucket in their arm. “The first question I got from our senior leadership team members when I was sharing this campaign internally was ‘It’s going to have a handle, right?'” he said. “It’s going to have a handle.”

And if consumer interest in the buckets is significant enough, the company might consider making them a limited time offer in-store next year and beyond. “There are a lot of different ways we can scale this campaign that we’ve already started considering,” he said.

Chris Powell