KFC + Oprah = I Don't Get It

Posted by: David Kiley on May 7, 2009

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Kentucky Fried Chicken has for many years tried to downplay its middle name. Fried food = bad food, so the story has been written the last 20 years.

Some genius years ago decided the way to go was to re-brand as KFC. I always thought that was a dumb idea. I always thought the rebrand should have been “Colonel Sanders.”

KFC’s latest effort to downplay “fried” in favor of grilled seems another mis-direction to me. “Unthink What You Thought About KFC,” is the theme. And KFC has turned to Oprah Winfrey to help push the idea and the grilled menu items, giving the stuff away on her show.

Visitors to www.unthinkkfc.com up until 11PM EST on May 6 could get a coupon for up to four free two-piece chicken meals with two sides and a biscuit by. The coupons have to be redeemed by May 19, though you can’t use them on Mother’s Day (okay..if I told my wife we were going to KFC for Mother’s Day, I’d get a Three Stooges poke in the eye).

I know that content providers like Oprah are hungry for ad dollars, but …zounds. KFC? Oprah, despite her struggles with weight, certainly confers an image of someone who is mindful of what she eats. And how many shows has she done with doctors, fitness gurus, nutritionists over the years advancing the idea of mindful eating. So, is the deal here that just helping to sell grilled chicken is okay as long as you aren’t pushing the nasty fried stuff? The soda pop?

Before I get the comments calling me a food ogre, I know that eating KFC once a month isn’t gonna kill anyone. But the issue here for Oprah, I would think, is…is this a brand I want to put my imprimatur on? I had this same issue with Rachel Ray and Burger King.

Fast fooders aren’t evil. That’s not what this is about. It’s about Rachel Ray pitching Burger King and Orson Welles pitching Paul Masson wine. I know why KFC wants Oprah. I understand why BK wanted Rachel Ray. I understand why Paul Masson hired Welles. But the only reason for those celebs to do it was for the money, because these brands and products are disconnected from what these people stand for in their day jobs.

Reader Comments

Hope Freeman

May 7, 2009 6:37 PM

I went to KFC ON 106ST AND 3RD AVE IN MANHATTAN AND WAS TOLD BY THE MANAGER AT THE TIME WHICH WAS 6:00PM MAY 7,2009 THAT THEY WERE NO LONGER HONORING THE COUPONS FROM OPRAH TWO PIECE MEAL DUE TO OVER WELMING DEMANDS. THIS IS HARLEM WHEN THERE IS A MEAL BEING GIVEN AWAY KFC SHOULD HAVE TAKEN THIS SERIOUSLY AND STOCKED THE GRILLED CHICKEN TO ACCOMADATE THE AREA WHERE THE STORE IS LOCATED. IT'S JUST NOT FAIR HOW THEY TREAT US IN THE MINORITY COMMUNITYS.

Amanda B.

May 7, 2009 10:59 PM

KFC has built their brand in 50’s by selling buckets of crispy fried chicken. It will be hard to rethink what has been already programmed in our minds. When KFC is mentioned first thing that pops in my mind is “Fried Food, Stay AWAY!” I don’t understand how Oprah has built her labeling brand of stamped approval. It’s not like she is a nutritionist, chef or a doctor that can give nutritional advice. She has tried every diet out there and she still is struggling with her weight. She just needs to stick to the advice of Dr. Oz he is the professional. Of course if Oprah even mentions that she had tried this KFC grilled chicken millions of woman and men jump on the “Oprah Diet Bandwagon.” People will take it to the extreme and think Oprah is on this new KFC diet so they should too. The big question is what will you order with that grilled chicken? Mash potatoes with gravy, coleslaw and super size that Diet Coke that is filled with artificial sweeteners. I agree most celebrities that do indorse are disconnected from the product.

Ray Rogers

May 8, 2009 2:12 PM

Seems to me as if someone has not done his homework. First of all, KFC is offering a grilled product to consumers who wish to have a healthier choice. Had you opened a nutri. packet, you would have noticed this. KFC has for at least my 30 years, stood for good family food. I think this author has spent way to much time fine dining with the rich and less time with the real people. This article is a total waste of reading material. I think I will now print it out and use it for the bottom of my bird cage.
Ray From Ohio

Natalie

May 8, 2009 2:18 PM

Oprah has always given free stuff to her studio audience. It was a nice idea for the viewers at home. The idea that grilled vs. fried chicken is better for you is the message here. Though it was a interesting move for Oprah to hook-up with KFC, maybe she is just a "regular" gal with regular audience members.

Joy Ocean

May 8, 2009 2:27 PM

David Kiley you are dumb.whats the point of your article. it goes no where. no wonder I am the only one replying you. I must be jobless which I am not. but which would appear to be because I am actually commenting on your silly article. I am leaving. you reall are silly

JV, Madison, Mississippi

May 8, 2009 2:34 PM

Good luck with the coupons, none of the KFCs here in the Madison/Jackson MS area will accept them. What deceptive advertising practices, get people in the KFC, embarrass them when you attempt to use the coupon and then you have to choices; pay for the meal that was free or walk away embarrassed. No more KFC for me!

DavidNYC

May 8, 2009 2:45 PM

Oprah + animal rights = bad mass animal farming

THEREFORE
Oprah ≠ bad cattle industry
AND
Oprah ≠ bad chicken industry = KFC

WAIT... WHAT?!

KFC + Oprah = MISCALCULATION!

Carrin

May 8, 2009 2:46 PM

OMG!! Get a life.

The idea that Oprah can't support eating from the healthIER side of Kentucky Fried Chicken's menu is like suggesting one shouldn't shop for fat free and sugarless products at Walmart with all of the deliciously tempting sugary, fat-filled items on the shelves as well!

Here's a point: If your'e so "health conscious" - leave the fat and caloried eating to the people who are adult enough to make their own decisions!

Remember, you health nuts die the same way people who choose to ENJOY life do - EVENTUALLY and PERMANENTLY!!!

susan m wilhelm

May 8, 2009 2:54 PM

this is a big lie,they only have rain checks at particapating locations,and goes in effect when they let us no, talk about letting the recesion broke country getting worse thanks K.F.C & OPRAH!
WE BELEAVED U!

jim

May 8, 2009 5:38 PM

YOu should have also brought up the fact that peta gave her an Woman of the year award last year and kfc is one of the worst offenders of treating Chickens bad.

Tombi

May 8, 2009 11:59 PM

Moderated eating doesn't kill. I am a size 2. I just had KFC. I just saved on electricity bill as I don't have to switch on my oven.

Donald Poland

May 9, 2009 9:51 AM

First of all, I am glad you make so much money in your job that you can eat at a "nicer" restaurant on Mother's day. Millions of others with less fortunes might be glad to be able to eat at KFC for Mother's day.

And second of all, you missed the whole point. Yes, Oprah is mindful of what she eats. This is GRILLED chicken, not fried. And YE$, it is very nutritional. That was the whole point of the promotion.

Maybe you missed this point, since you were so busy eating at "nicer" resturants.

tracie

May 9, 2009 3:01 PM

Oprah should be ashamed of herself

Stefanie Hartman

May 12, 2009 7:25 AM

You would think she wouldn't need the ad dollars badly enough to go with KFC. Guess not.

Marjorie McNeil

May 12, 2009 7:48 AM

Look Oprah likes chicken now. SHe has found that KFC can't be that bad, if its still around, neither is McDonalds bad for people. I know people that have lived to be 100 years old, that lived on McDonalds. My first and most meaningful job was at KFC. It taught me lessons of fairness. It taught me worth. I took my duties seriously. I had to feed the people. I was the cook. I had a regimen of cooking, I didn't care what the rush was, I wanted the chicken to come out my way. I now have a cousin and an uncle that are employees of the KFC I began learning business lessons at. The are a proud brand and so is Oprah. She likes chicken now, they likely have a recipe that she suggested. Did you ever think about that. Grilld Barbeque chicken huh, sounds like something out of a Harpo magazine to me. Anymore equations you need the answer too.

Copyright©Royle69

Jenni

May 12, 2009 6:39 PM

I've lost respect for Oprah for this stunt. KFC mistreats and kills millions of chickens a year - a fact that doesn't escape the more enlightened of us, and with the amount of grease and residual fat the chickens are cooked with it isn't all that healthy either.

Wen

May 14, 2009 4:44 PM

I'm just facinated by the hyperbol of hypocrisy I see in this article and the comments of so many who believe all the hype from peta. If you buy chicken at any grocery store or Restaurant you buy chicken from the same people as KFC does. I'm sure most people who witness the meat packing plants who harvest the meat crop, would not be to excited about how the animals are treated. The only thing that keeps peta around is blackmail money paid by people who don't want the negative publicity. More power to KFC for standing up to peta's blackmail.
As far as Mr. Kileys comments and looking down his nose at people who eat Mothers Day at KFC... Get a Life.
Just because your in the top 5% of income earners and chose not to go there doesn't mean it isn't wonderful food. I personaly eat there 3 times a week, am not overwieght, and enjoy the customer service workers and how I am treated. Mr. Kiley is just a Snob with a place to air his views. I however am canceling my subscription to Business Week for hiring narrow minded fools.

monica

May 14, 2009 6:09 PM

Why are people hating on Oprah for this? She tried to do a great thing in giving away free meals to Americans. There are so many Americans who don't know when their next meal will be, especially now, and a free meal from KFC would be a blessing. True, KFC miscalculated the promotion and couldn't honor most of the coupons (by the way Hope, it's not just minority communities where the coupons weren't honored, it's all KFC's, they simply couldn't afford to give so much chicken away, but that is not Oprah's fault, it is the people at KFC who came up with and ok'd the idea. Healthy or not, fast food and junk food in general is the best calorie per dollar ratio, and when someone is hurting enough financially, healthy choices take a backseat to eating at all. It would be nice if writers would come out of their ivory towers and realize the economy that the rest of us are living in.

Bill

May 15, 2009 3:56 PM

Hey Ofra,
Thanks for the info, however kfc isn't supporting the coupon anymore. They ask you to fill out a form and then they will send you a coupon in the future. Hey, guess what, I won't be eating at kfc anymore and I won't be awatching Ofra either.

Robin Lynn

May 15, 2009 4:02 PM

To Oprah,
THANKS for telling me to go on your website and print out a coupon for kfc I just LOVED how they gave me a rain check and I am 11 years old and I want my FOOD!!!!!!!!!!!!

From your X FAN
Robin Lynn

maureen L

May 15, 2009 4:22 PM

Dear O,
you should be ashamed of youself, telling people about a coupon that you can't even use. Now I just wasted paper. Ever hear of saving trees!
Thanks alot!

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News, opinions, inflammatory meanderings and occasional ravings about the world of advertising, marketing and media. By marketing editor Burt Helm, Innovation Editor Helen Walters, and senior correspondent Michael Arndt.

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