What good is a chicken restaurant that doesn’t have any chicken? That’s the question many Brits were asking a few weeks back when certain KFC restaurants in the United Kingdom ran out of their signature entrée.

Apparently, a simple logistics mistake led to the temporary forced closure of hundreds of KFCs in the United Kingdom. Initially confused and outraged, chicken fans were a bit mollified when KFC offered a humorous if a bit cheeky, mea culpa.

After the KFC ad that turned frowns upside down, it looked like the brand might be in the clear. But not so fast. The issue, which has been billed as a small mistake that led to big trouble, has not yet been completely managed. As of this writing, about three percent of all the 900 KFC stores in Britain remain closed, and several hundred others are only serving a limited menu. In most cases, chicken is back, but many side items were in short supply.

And certain menu items were missing more than sides, which had many customers asking why the chain was charging full price yet not delivering full meals… and, of course, they were asking very publicly on social media. These posts started adding up, many mentioning a distinct lack of gravy, and forcing KFC to tweet something that may have been strange in any other context: “We can confirm there is no specific issue with gravy…”

But there is definitely still an issue with KFC in Britain, especially from a consumer PR standpoint. The UK remains KFC’s biggest market in all of Europe, and, according to CNN, it’s in the top five globally. This “issue” stacks up to a pretty big deal for the vast majority of KFC franchisees in Britain who want to make a living but can’t stock their restaurants properly. And, at this point, there haven’t been any announcements as to when and how this issue will be resolved.

There’s no doubt the fun full page apology advert helped, but after the apology, KFC hadn’t yet fixed the problem… and they didn’t do much more than point the finger at their delivery contractor without offering much light at the end of the tunnel. So, after customers stopped grinning at the ad, they still couldn’t order what they wanted off the menu.

So, yes, points to KFC for hitting the right notes with their socially aware advert… but they need to solve this problem, or the goodwill engendered by that ad will quickly dissipate.

Ronn Torossian is the founder and CEO of New York based PR Firm, 5W Public Relations.


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