Colonel Sanders founded KFC in 1952 to make delicious food available to everyone and support the communities in which KFC operates. As the COVID-19 pandemic gripped the U.S., people fell sick, schools closed, essential workers feared going to work, businesses were forced to close, and families were going hungry. KFC quickly jumped into action, creating initiatives to remind consumers of the long-standing values established nearly 70 years ago.
KFC’s overall objectives amid the pandemic were:
Upon the pandemic hitting the U.S., KFC’s first order of business was to remind the public that KFC was still open for business and ready to serve its longtime customers while offering the safest experience possible. Once KFC was confident that they had exhausted all measures to keep restaurants, employees and customers safe, focus shifted to giving back to those in need. Hunger relief is core to KFC’s DNA, as evidenced by existing philanthropic partnerships:
As the pandemic gripped the U.S., KFC’s commitment to the community was thrust into the spotlight. Because of this, the company wanted to continue to contribute in bigger, more meaningful ways. To do so, the KFC team came up with a multi-pronged strategy that brought Feeding Our Communities to life:
To ensure a successful strategy, KFC completely re-thought how its current charitable programs could elevate Feeding Our Communities. Although philanthropic partnerships were already in place, KFC took a new approach to working with them. For example, KFC was able to gain assistance from parent company Yum! Brands to fund the initiative, a first-of-its-kind partnership.
Feeding Our Communities was an earned media-focused program, instilling trust and confidence in consumers and amplifying the work that franchisees were already doing in their communities. It also enabled KFC to highlight that most restaurants are locally owned and operated and remained open during the pandemic to serve their communities, which shines a light on the people who help make KFC such a resilient family. The franchisees and restaurant teams were able to choose where their donations would go, depending on what would resonate most in their local communities.
KFC creatively utilized corporate assets, its network of franchisees, the KFC Foundation, and existing partnerships to create “Feeding Our Communities.” KFC was uniquely positioned to give back to communities and was able to get franchisee leaders to participate.
Among the creative ways that KFC ensured its actions would make a difference in the community:
In one of the company’s biggest donations, KFC fed more than one million people impacted by COVID-19, created goodwill around the KFC brand and worked in tandem with KFC Corporate and franchisee partners for the greater good. From a media standpoint, KFC saw an increase in coverage, resulting in a higher SOV and helped sustain strong sales numbers, despite restaurants only providing carry-out, delivery and drive-thru. According to industry data, KFC also outperformed other QSRs during this time.
Looking forward, decision-making for KFC will consider health and the economic climate. From KFC’s virtual Mother’s Day campaign in partnership with Messenger from Facebook, to the launch of a new menu item or brand activation, KFC will continue to tie creative ideas back to its roots of protecting and celebrating employees, making delicious, safe food available to everyone and supporting the communities in which the brand operates.
Positive coverage for KFC's announcements has run in top-tier publications such as The Tonight Show, People.com, CNN Business, Ad Age, Delish, Fox News Online, Forbes and Eater, among others.