May 7 2009

Oprah Brings On A Chicken Emergency

oprah shockedThe power of Oprah is a truly frightening thing.

On Tuesday, Oprah announced a promotion in conjunction with KFC via their UnthinkKFC site to give away free grilled chicken meals to everyone who printed out a coupon for it.  The coupons were available for only 36 hours, but it appears that power of free food was under estimated.  According to Business Insider (thanks to The Inquisitr for first linking this) not only did the promotion crash the servers (they were the ones to handle handing them out), but it appears the Big O has caused KFC to run dangerously close to running out of chicken in the lead up to Mother’s Day.

As I noted in my original post, perhaps this promotion should have been run at a different time seeing as the coupons were good for May 6th – May 19th EXCEPT for May 10th, Mother’s Day.  Well, since more coupons got printed than they expected, KFCs across the country are running out of chicken, and the entire supply chain may be drained by Saturday… the day before Mother’s Day.  Well, here’s an idea… YOU SHOULD HAVE STARTED THE PROMOTION ON MONDAY, MAY 11TH!  Seriously, how hard would this idea have been?  Instead you have put one of your biggest days of the year in jeporady with a promotion where you give away your product.  Ya know, I’m not a mathmatician, but… yeah.

Then there is the other situation where some KFC locations are not honoring the coupons (they are mostly franchise stores, so each those stores can opt out of promotions).  Others simply ran out of chicken, and even a few more told people to come back the next day.  So how did people react to this?  Small riots and sit-ins.  No… I am not kidding. Carmen Dixon of BlackVoices summed this up pretty nicely:

So is this what we’ve come to? Can’t get people to organize around the crisis of impoverished schools or our well funded, for-profit, out-of-control prison industrial complex, for example; but deprive people of their free two piece, or just delay it for a day, and all hell breaks loose.

free chicke nnowThey’re right.  “Hey, that has nothing to do with me, why should I bother protesting it?  I mean I… what?  They won’t give us free chicken?!?  ATTICA!  ATTICA!  ATTICA!”

At the end of the day, even with all of the hiccups in the system, you can’t deny that KFC has gotten an amazing amout of publicity for their new grilled chicken product.  Heck, they’ve gotten a lot of promotion, period.  Not all of it has been positive, but who cares, it has people talking about them again.

The thing is, anytime there is a promotion online giving away free food of some type, the same thing happens, “we didn’t anticipate the demand.”  Well, at what point is someone going to anticipate it?  You simply think, “X number will do this… now lets plan for 5 times that… and 10 times that…” and so on.  Demand will be high, and by golly you should have the servers in place to handle it.  It will reach the point some day where people won’t put up with this type of promotion handling, and the backlash on your brand will be such that you simply can’t recover.

As for the public… show some patience folks, it is, afterall, free.

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