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KFC Just Handled a Public Relations Crisis Perfectly with a Single Picture

What you can learn about KFC’s response to a PR nightmare

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BY Robbie Abed - 28 Feb 2018

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

The chicken franchise, KFC, just had one of its worst weeks in the history of the company.

They ran out of chicken.

No, seriously. KFC restaurants were forced to shut down in England because of supplier issues. They just switched suppliers and due to logistics issues, the supplier wasn't able to give them chicken.

It definitely angered customers who drove to their restaurants to only find out that they were shut down because restaurants had no chicken to cook and sell.

Some customers even called the police.

But, there is a silver lining to this story.

As KFC was scrambling to get its supplier issue under control, their PR team went to work and did something spectacular that might just give the company a little breathing room with the public.

They put out a full-page ad:

A great play on letters from KFC.

It continues on by saying the obvious:

"A chicken restaurant without chicken. It's not ideal."

This was a masterpiece in PR and I commend them for coming out with a strong image and message. They could have easily spent their time blaming the supplier for the issues, but decided to take the high route and apologize to their customers, team members and partners.

Although the situation isn't 100 percent fixed, there are a few things you can learn from this response from KFC.

Address the problem head-on.

KFC for the past week was a chicken place that literally could not sell chicken. It doesn't get any worse than that. McDonalds might have an ice cream machine that doesn't work, but that is no comparison to KFC running out of chicken. It's any restaurants worse nightmare.

The best part about this ad is that they addressed the obvious right away. That shows that they understand the irony of the situation and they are as embarrassed as you can imagine them to be.

If you're going to be funny, it better be really funny and not offensive.

The moment I saw the "FCK" chicken basket, I thought immediately that it was a photoshopped meme. But then I saw it on a full-page ad, and I knew this was a work of genius from KFC's PR team.

The British have a good sense of humor, so I think they would really appreciate the situation. Not having chicken available is a big issue, but it's not a life-threatening issue, and they applied the right amount of humor to the situation.

I want to think that they've have had this picture ready to go for a disaster. Either way, it was fantastic.

Say sorry and mean it.

The first words on the ad were "I'm sorry." It didn't say "Our supplier messed up." They took ownership of the disaster.

The next time you mess up, own it. Don't blame it on anyone else even if it is their issue.

Be grateful to those who were unnecessarily affected by it.

A part of the ad reads "And endless thanks to our KFC team members and our franchise partners for working tirelessly to fix the situation." They knew that the KFC restaurants were not responsible for this disaster. There is nothing they can do if the chicken does not arrive at their restaurant.

This shows that KFC has goodwill to their team members who were affected by a bad supplier situation and are open to taking steps to fix the situation.

KFC still has a long way to go, but it seems like they are slowing going back to normal. I don't think they'll lose their loyal KFC fans anytime soon and with this full page ad, they might have gained a few more.

The next time you run into a disaster, address the issue head-on, apologize, be grateful and only be funny if you can get away it

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