kfc pr stunt

Colonel Sanders is at it again – and this time he’s after your child’s name. Earlier this year, KFC announced it would award a $11,000 towards the college tuition fees of the first parents who names their baby after Colonel Sanders on his birthday. On September 9, Harland Rose was born with a headstart on her college fund. Anna Pilson and Decker Platt are the proud parents of a healthy child names after the lesser known first name of Colonel Harland David Sanders.

On October 30, KFC announced the news on Twitter:  

“I’m as pleased as pumpkin punch to announce the winner of our Baby Harland Naming Contest and the Harland who will be ushering in an all-new generation of Harlands, little Harland Rose.”

A smart move by KFC – as it gets two rounds of coverage with this stunt. First, when the contest was announced back in August and now as the winner is announced.

As far baby naming stories go, this is hard to beat. As far as PR stunt goes, this has definitely hit the mark. The stunt was awarded with a load of trans-Atlantic coverage with the story being popular in both in the US and the UK. In terms of coverage, it seems like the “name your baby after” stunt has worked again.

This campaign has had its fair share of critics as well. It is usual for brand’s to attempt to weave themselves into their consumer’s lives as much as possible, but some people feel like they took it a step too far.

Critics have labelled the stunt as “dystopian” and “sad”, further commenting “your child will have to explain for the rest of their life they were named after a corporation’s publicity stunt”.

The Atlantic described the stunt as “a disappointing confirmation of the lengths to which corporations will go to set themselves apart in the churn of the social-media go”.

A KFC spokesperson told the newspaper, “Ever the entrepreneur, Colonel Sanders bounced back from a series of failed jobs and business ventures to found Kentucky Fried Chicken in his 60s. We couldn’t think of a better way to honour him than to help support Baby Harland’s future successes with a college donation”.

KFC is known for its outlandish media stunts. Last year, it launched a chicken sandwich into space and received a lot of media attention, which means right now there is a fried chicken sandwich floating around in the stratosphere!

People are divided over whether KFC is crossing the line or whether this is a completely reasonable attempt to create media buzz. Coverage of the story has ranged from critical to amused. Media outlets have covered the company’s offer unblinkingly and uncritically. Regardless, KFC’s marketing strategy has arguably achieved what it wanted to – widespread media coverage.

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Ronn Torossian is the Founder, President and CEO of New York-based 5W Public Relations. He has overseen the company's rapid growth and expansion to the Inc. 500 list, as well as provided counsel to hundreds of companies, including members of the Fortune 500, Inc. 500 and Forbes 400. His work spans global interests, corporate entities, high-profile individuals, regional business entities, government agencies and academic institutions - both on routine public relations matters and extremely sensitive issues. One of the foremost public relations experts in the U.S., Torossian is known for his aggressive, results-focused orientation, as well as his close working relationships with members of the media, influencers, decision makers, politicians and celebrities. At 5W Public Relations, Torossian's client experience has included programs for Coca-Cola, Microsoft, Anheuser-Busch, Barnes & Noble, Cantor Fitzgerald, IHOP, McDonald's, Evian, EDS, VeriSign, XM Radio, Seagram's, The Loews Regency, Bad Boy Worldwide Entertainment, Marriott Hotels, Vail Resorts, Pamela Anderson, Snoop Dogg, the Government of Israel, and others. Referred to by The New York Post as a "publicity guru," by Fox News as a "high-powered PR CEO," by Tyra Banks as a "crisis management guru," and by CNN as "a leading PR expert," Torossian is regularly featured in and quoted by the media, including by CNN, Fox News Channel, MSNBC, NBC, The New York Times, and others. CBS National News said "Ronn Torossian knows spin," and a New York Times feature story on Torossian referred to him as "The consummate hard-driving, scrappy NY publicist." Earlier in his career, Torossian was a Vice President/Group Director for one of The InterPublic Group's (IPG) largest PR agencies, where he was responsible for significant client growth and successful client programs, including work for Clinique, Fox News Channel, DHL, Hard Rock Café and others. A resident of Manhattan’s Upper West Side, Torossian was named to the Advertising Age "40 Under 40" list, PR Week's "40 Under 40" List, is a regular lecturer at universities and conferences, a member of Young Presidents Organization (YPO) and a board member of numerous non-profit organizations.