KFC’s eulogy for its old fries: ‘They suck’

KFC Canada’s former French fries have kicked the (red and white) bucket. At age 71, they’ve gone to the great fryer in the sky. Made their way to potato paradise.

But rather than mourning, the chicken chain is celebrating their demise with a new campaign from Courage that’s the latest in a string of attention-getting marketing efforts that include “fixing” rival QSR McDonald’s new Chicken Big Mac, putting a playable version of Colonel Sanders into a fighting videogame, and enlisting rapper Yung Gravy to promote its Gravy Lovers roster.

After quietly replacing their old fries with a new seasoned version, the QSR is running a spot promoting its fries that uses actual consumer sentiment about the now-former fries (“KFC has the worst fries. Period” and “KFC PLS change your dead fries”), accompanied by a visual of shrivelled, dried-up fries.

“We get it. Our old fries suck,” says the super, as the camera pulls back to show the fries laid to rest in a red-and-white striped casket. “So we’re letting them rest in pieces.”

“We knew that Canadians hated our old fries and so 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, KFC Canada.

As part of the campaign, KFC also staged a mock funeral for its fries, with a branded hearse bearing the message “R.I.P. Old KFC Fries: 1952-2023” and an invitation to try the new fries for $1 making its way through Toronto—allowing people to say a fond (or perhaps even a not-so-fond) farewell to its previous pommes frites.

“Canadians rated KFC old fries as the lowest-rated fry in the nation,”said  Dhaval Bhatt, CCO of Courage. “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.”

For those unable to see the procession in person, KFC is hosting an online “Fry Funeral” at KFCFryFuneral.com at noon on Aug. 1. A spot promoting the online livestream shows a mourner tossing the fries into the coffin.

“The KFC brand is all about being bold and fun,” said Akhtar. “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.”

It’s not the first time that KFC has tinkered with its tators, however. In 2020, its U.S. arm swapped out its traditional Potato Wedges for Secret Recipe Fries, with then U.S. CMO Andrea Zahumensky saying that the chain “searched the world far and wide” for the best fries.

It’s also not the first time that a brand has willfully trashed its own product to generate interest for something new. Two years ago, Tim Hortons promoted its re-relaunched Dark Roast coffee with a commercial showing people wincing at the taste of its first attempt in 2014, and using phrases like “watery, with a bitter aftertaste” to describe it.

And in a famous case more than a decade ago, Dominos ran a campaign for its revamped pizza that showed actual focus group participants describing its crust as being “like cardboard” and its sauce tasting like ketchup. “Great brands going forward are going to have a level of honesty and transparency that hasn’t been seen before,” said the chain’s president Patrick Doyle at the time.

Chris Powell