What #KFCRealCheeseFries teaches us about real time marketing

When it comes to real time marketing and taking a swipe at your competitors, not only time, but relevance is of the essence. Just yesterday, Marketing reported KFC Singapore introducing an improved version of its long time Cheese Fries dish. This followed the recent launch of McDonald’s Cheesy Unloaded Fries which caused a stir after failing to meet real life expectations.

Jumping on the conversations which were happening on cheese fries in Singapore, KFC Singapore cheekily touted its new improved dish to be “the real deal”, using the hashtag #KFCRealCheeseFries. Not only did the post garner praise from netizens for being timely, it also sparked a debate on which fast food brand had the best fries, with even Burger King chiming in when pulled in by netizens.

Speaking to Marketing on the move, a KFC spokesperson said that in order to respond fast in such situation requires a strong sense of urgency and commitment between client and agency.

“We are thankful to have a great partner, Social@Oglivy to  support us on this timely creative ad execution, turning around in less than eight hours, from shoot to post,” the spokesperson added.

“Our strong partnership with KFC spurs us to find timely opportunities and conversations that the brand can be part of. With heightened interest surrounding the launch of cheesy fries, the time was right to remind Singaporeans why they love KFC’s new and improved version,” Rika Sharma, managing partner, Ogilvy & Mather Singapore, said.

In a conversation with Marketing, Xing Long Tan, head of Society Singapore said that for real time marketing, brands usually fall short when they try to force themselves into conversations or trends they have little relevance in. KFC did great to not only identify a marketing opportunity, but also produce a relevant piece of content. This was done in a timely manner to spark conversation amongst its fans. He added:

It also helped that there was genuine love of their own Cheese Fries amongst their customers, if not, it might have backfired and invited criticisms to their own product.

For Jeffrey Lim, general manager of Carbon Interactive, the move is reminiscent of the rivalry between Apple’s Mac and Window’s PC, as well as Coca Cola versus Pepsi comments in the past. The same strategy is being applied and is shown to be working – launch a great product, create a villain and let your fans or community rally around your hero product.

“The move leverages on one of the most powerful marketing tools – word of mouth, or in our current online era – ‘word of mouse’. This works when a brand creates a genuinely great product and lets it impress consumers,” Lim explained.

For brands looking to jump on the shade bandwagon, Lim said that they first need to ensure their products are genuinely good. This needs to be coupled with clever copy and creative to drive home the point. He added:

Brand should also not overdo it and in the process indirectly advertise for their competitors.

Taking a swipe at one’s competitors is not a new marketing strategy. In Singapore alone, various brands in telco and airlines industry have often to be found exchanging cheeky blows, much to the amusement of customers.

Just in September, following the launch of the latest iPhone 8 and iPhone X, things got a little competitive between Singtel and Circles.Life over their unlimited data plans. This happened when one netizen expressed that he was switching back to Singtel from Circles.Life following the launch of their unlimited data plan. This saw both companies exchanging jibes and memes touting that its own plan was better.

Meanwhile in March this year, Circles.Life decided to weigh in to defend itself after a StarHub customer decided to publicly break up with StarHub through a social media post. When referred to as the “third party” in this break up, Circles.Life decided to defend itself in this “broken relationship”.

Globally, throwing shade in the fast food industry is not a new move – with one famous rivalry being that of McDonald’s and Burger King. Most recently, Burger King took a dig at McDonald’s during the special pre-premiere screening of the movie IT in Germany, which saw the phrase “The moral is: never trust a clown” pop up on the screen before the end credits.

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