Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Brand Maintenance

Does the partnership between KFC and the Susan G Komen Foundation make sense? For either brand? Such a partnership worked very well in the case of McDonald's and the Olympics. The fast-food chain's choice to partner with the Olympics- the epitome of an event and brand that symbolizes health- is just one of the many steps taken to maintain popularity among the increasingly healthy American population. Still, many question this campaign because it seems the only common denominator they share is the word breast.

In this case, I don't believe consumers will lose any affection for the Susan G Komen foundation for partnering with a large national chain that has the media budget to bring in the biggest donation ever for the foundation. KFC's "A bucket for the cure" campaign has a goal to raise over $8 million dollars by donating 50 cents for every bucket of chicken sold.

In this marriage, who is the parasite? Who is more in need of the other when each needs different things - one dollars and one a boost in brand identity? At first glance, the brand values do not align. KFC is just one contributor to the country's obesity problem where 1/3 of American adults are considered obese. On the other side, there is Susan G Komen who is most known for their Race for the Cure event, raising money and awareness for breast cancer. In my opinion, Susan G Komen is reaping more than she sows. The lending of her name will put millions in her pocket.

Whether it makes sense on the surface or not, I cannot deny that when first entertained by the campaign's commercial, I had positive thoughts about KFC. That is probably the first time I could say "positive" and "KFC" in the same sentence. It is a brand I did not find relevant to my lifestyle nor did I believe they were socially concerned. One campaign will not get me to change my complete perception of the brand or get me to start buying their product, but I do believe it is a good first step in revitalizing their brand identity.

Sometimes as a brand it's not about creating, but maintaining what you have already built and making changes around it.

Brand strategists can be guilty of jumping to solutions before truly uncovering the problem. No one will know the success of the campaign until brand tracking is done. My guess is this campaign was a result of KFC's last brand tracking results.

When brand tracking, we consider reporting on things such as awareness, usage, brand attitudes, perceptions, and purchase intent. But with a brand being an experience living at the intersection of promise and expectation, it would only make sense to track consumer experiences as well. KFC can't just say it, but must do it. The messaging must translate interally as well as externally. If employees call BS, so will the consumer.

KFC's brand maintenance attempt may take some additional clean up... the brand and the counters.