KFC + Oprah = I Don't Get It

Kentucky Fried Chicken has for many years tried to downplay its middle name. Fried food = bad food, so the story has been written the last 20 years.

Some genius years ago decided the way to go was to re-brand as KFC. I always thought that was a dumb idea. I always thought the rebrand should have been “Colonel Sanders.”

KFC’s latest effort to downplay “fried” in favor of grilled seems another mis-direction to me. “Unthink What You Thought About KFC,” is the theme. And KFC has turned to Oprah Winfrey to help push the idea and the grilled menu items, giving the stuff away on her show.

Visitors to www.unthinkkfc.com up until 11PM EST on May 6 could get a coupon for up to four free two-piece chicken meals with two sides and a biscuit by. The coupons have to be redeemed by May 19, though you can’t use them on Mother’s Day (okay..if I told my wife we were going to KFC for Mother’s Day, I’d get a Three Stooges poke in the eye).

I know that content providers like Oprah are hungry for ad dollars, but …zounds. KFC? Oprah, despite her struggles with weight, certainly confers an image of someone who is mindful of what she eats. And how many shows has she done with doctors, fitness gurus, nutritionists over the years advancing the idea of mindful eating. So, is the deal here that just helping to sell grilled chicken is okay as long as you aren’t pushing the nasty fried stuff? The soda pop?

Before I get the comments calling me a food ogre, I know that eating KFC once a month isn’t gonna kill anyone. But the issue here for Oprah, I would think, is…is this a brand I want to put my imprimatur on? I had this same issue with Rachel Ray and Burger King.

Fast fooders aren’t evil. That’s not what this is about. It’s about Rachel Ray pitching Burger King and Orson Welles pitching Paul Masson wine. I know why KFC wants Oprah. I understand why BK wanted Rachel Ray. I understand why Paul Masson hired Welles. But the only reason for those celebs to do it was for the money, because these brands and products are disconnected from what these people stand for in their day jobs.

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