KFC’s franchise owners are fighting the fast food chain for putting more ad attention toward menu items that are not fried, a campaign that owners say is hurting business.
In the second quarter of 2010, KFC’s revenue fell 7% from a year earlier, which may suggest that the new ads aren't bringing in more customers.
In January, the KFC National Council & Advertising Cooperative, which represents all U.S. franchisees, sued KFC to gain control of ad strategy, but the company itself called the lawsuit “baseless,” according to Businessweek. The suit is still pending a resolution.
KFC’s parent company, Yum! Brands (Stock Quote: YUM) has heavily advertised the chain’s grilled chicken, and its new slogan, “Unthink KFC” urges chicken lovers not to pigeonhole its food as unhealthy and fried.
In parts of the U.S., however, grilled chicken sales have failed to take flight.
“I’m not for the grilled product and haven’t put grilled in my stores,” Wallace Fowler, a Jonesboro, Ark.-franchise owner said in the Association of Kentucky Fried Chicken Franchisees’ spring newsletter. “It might be different in California or New York, but our customers like the Original Recipe and Extra Crispy,” he added.
The AKFCF, which represents about two-thirds of U.S. franchise locations, has hired McDonald's (Stock Quote: MCD) former chief marketing officer to help franchises market locally and separately from Yum! Brands’ nationwide ads, Businessweek reported.
On the flipside, KFC garnered a herd of fried-food-loving followers after introducing the Double Down, a “sandwich” of bacon and special sauce between two fried chicken breasts instead of bread, in April. In that first month on the menu, 10 million people (including this MainStreet reporter) flocked to the restaurants to try a Double Down, according to QSR Magazine, a publication that caters to quick-service restaurant owners.
The market for consumers who don’t care about the health effects of food and are instead simply motivated by hunger is actually very lucrative, according to QSR.
Interestingly, the grilled version of the Double Down contains more sodium than the fried version (1,430 milligrams vs. 1,380 milligrams).
Those who scoff at the high amounts of sodium in fast food may want to check their pantries, however. Popular Ramen noodles, which are linked to chronci illness, as MainStreet previously reported, can contain about 1,580 milligrams of sodium per package.