The Best Apology Ad of 2018 so far


Unless you’ve been hiding under an extraordinarily large rock over the past week, you will have heard all about KFC’s #chickengate and how it resulted in the closure of up to 600 KFC stores.

The PR department and creatives within KFC’s headquarters were forced to offer an official apology to the public after “operational issues” with their logistics partner DHL resulted in “teething problems” in the switchover from their previous chicken supplier. This resulted in, believe it or not, no chicken being delivered to the fried chicken restaurants.

And people wouldn’t stop clucking on about it…

Devastated KFC lovers were even calling the police about the “apocalyptic disaster” and a statement had to be released claiming that it was not a “police issue”.  The PR team at KFC must have been flapping about this one.

Luckily, they reacted quickly and a full-page print ad was crafted by their creative agency Mother and it was swiftly released in The Sun and Metro.

The tongue in cheek ad consisted of an empty bargain bucket and a switch-around of their usual KFC brand name, reading “FCK.”


Tabboo language is sometimes frowned upon in the advertising market. Particularly when it comes from large, corporate brands who have a huge consumer base as there’s a lot of potential to offend people. It’s a big risk to take, and we’re sure if their US parent company were informed that they were about to say “FCK” on a full page ad, the idea wouldn’t have even left their mouths.

KFC were daring enough to go against the grain and be brutally honest with their customers. They were simply lifting their hands up and saying, “we FCKed up” in a way that’s definitely relevant to the response they were receiving from the public.

Under the image, KFC wrote:

“A chicken restaurant without any chicken. It’s not ideal. Huge apologies to our customers, especially those who travelled out of their way to find we’re closed.

It’s been a hell of a week, but we’re making progress, and every day more and more fresh chicken is being delivered to our restaurants. Thank you for bearing with us.”

They took full responsibility of the situation being “not ideal”, but did so in a way that was simple yet effective, by making fun of the fact they had ran out of their main ingredient.

How They Achieved Instant Brand Salience

Brand salience is something that should be aimed for by every business owner. Usually, large brands have high brand salience whereas small companies tend to have little or none. It relates to how thought about or noticed your brand is when in a shopping situation. Data collected from Ehrenberg Bass states that around 86% of advertisements are ignored or, when they are noticed, they are usually unconnected to the brand that is has funded the advertisement.

This was not the case with FCK.

By proposing such a small yet noticeable change to the brand’s logo, it is easily recognisable as a KFC advertisement, whilst still gaining a lot of attention.

The way they handled this PR disaster has put the spotlight on KFC on all social channels. #ChickenGate and #KFCCrisis was trending and the amount of tweets they were mentioned in was unprecidented.

Media Strategy

In an industry where it seems that digital marketing is overtaking print, this print apology defies the myth. Data suggests that news media is still the most trustworthy source amongst the public, for driving the public agenda, and gaining and then holding target consumers’ attention – so it makes perfect tactical sense for KFC to choose this medium for their apology. This organic exposure was the catalyst in a series of facebook and twitter posts relating to the ad and comments relating to the apology soon took over our news feeds.

KFC were snappy with their digital marketing too and, following scenes of frustration outside the closed fast food outlets, an emergency website was set up providing the public with regular updates and informing them on which KFC restaurants closest to them were open.

This is a perfect example of how traditional marketing and digital marketing can work in conjunction with eachother to create a recipe for success.

“You always want what you can’t have.”

How many times have you thought about KFC in the last year? Now think about how often they’ve been plastered over your news feed in the last few weeks…

It’s a simple case of, “you always want what you can’t have.”

All over the country, the public have been told that they can not have KFC because their local restaurant is closed. And now that they’ve had to go without it for the past two weeks, they want it more than ever. Suddenly, everyone wants their hands in a bargain bucket. I bet they will more than make up for the short-fall in profits over the past two weeks.

Also, we never knew KFC used fresh chicken rather than frozen – but now we do.

A Recipe for Success

Founder and group managing director of Frank PR Andrew Bloch tweeted that the apology was a “masterclass in PR crisis management,” and one fan even called it, “possibly the best apology ad ever”. Other ad and PR industries praised it and claimed it is an example of “great crisis management.”

Personally, we’re impressed with this apology print. And it seems the nation was, too.

However, it seems KFC’s “hell of a week” isn’t yet over. As it has recently been revealed that they are now undergoing  a gravy shortage. When will it end!?


We’re off to go and find ourselves some fried chicken.
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