KFC Germany has found itself in hot water for launching a promotion on the annual commemoration of Kristallnacht. Kristallnacht, which can be translated to “Night of Broken Glass”, remembers a night of terror for many in the Jewish community as raids took place on Jewish businesses, homes and synagogues in 1938 by the Nazi soldiers.
Unfortunately, this year, KFC app users received messages asking them to mark the day with crispy chicken and cheese. Shortly after, another message emerged saying the first was an error. Unfortunately, the initial message was already captured and shared on Twitter by users.
In a statement to media outlets like CNN, KFC Germany apologised for the mistake, and said it was an automated push notification issued accidentally that contained “an obviously unplanned, insensitive and unacceptable message.” It added that it understands the gravity and history of the day and remains “committed to equity, inclusion and belonging for all.”
More and more brands and celebrities today are turning to current affairs and events to market their products. However, the line must be tread carefully.
In Korea, for example, the recent Itaewon tragedy saw divided conversations emerge when G-Dragon put up a post with an image of a daisy flower, saying “Pray for Itaewon”. The daisy is a well recognised branding symbol of the star and many called him out for being insensitive by using his personal brand design. Some said it looked like he was using a tragic event to promote his brand.
In 2013, AT&T also made a similar grave error where it inserted its phone into an image of the Tribute in Light art installation, which recreates the Twin Towers with beams of light in remembrance of the tragic 9/11 incident. Meanwhile, a yoga studio in the US also decided to offer 20% off showing its calculation of 9+11=20 to be the driving force.
Should brands really need to speak during a day of commemoration or after a tragedy, they should do so after very careful consideration and such messages should ideally be devoid of branding and sales tactics.
Meanwhile, several celebrities have also been involved in scandals around anti-Semitic messaging on social media. Most recently, artist Kanye West and NBA athlete Kyrie Irving were dropped from adidas and Nike respectively for their messages.