Each week in Ad Snacking, former advertising executive turned chef Eli Sussman takes a close look at a recent food advertisement. He’ll keep the copy short to guarantee the R.O.I. for procrastinating at your desk stays high.
There was a period of my life where I ate KFC popcorn chicken basically every day for lunch for an entire semester. Luckily, I am still alive. I will be the first one to admit that this compulsion served no intellectual or scientific purpose. I wasn’t writing a paper on fast food culture or doing a senior thesis on metabolism. I was simply eating bite-sized deep-fried reconstituted chicken parts because they tasted delicious. My relationship to KFC was like Ravens fans to Ray Lewis. Sure, the fans know he was once accused of murder…but that man can play football. And for football fans, there is only one thing that matters: winning.
I know KFC is really, really bad for me. But for an eating fan, there is only one thing that matters: spending 9 hours on my couch eating fried chicken. Edit note: If you don’t like football or fried chicken, this Ad Snacking might not be for you. Luckily, the new episode of GIRLS just debuted on HBO GO. Enjoy 23 minutes of trite rambling angst with your quinoa salad.
KFC = New England Patriots
Just like the Tom Brady led squad, easy to hate in public and easy to love in private.
Fried chicken is one of the best flavors that exists in the world. I’ve never smoked crack, but I imagine crack tastes like fried chicken (or Sour Patch Kids). In a melting pot of a country where most of our “authentic” flavors are borrowed and re-purposed from immigrant cultures, fried chicken is associated with American Southern food, making it an iconic fixture of “real” American cuisine. Football is also distinctly American, made even more so by the fact that the rest of the world uses the word football to describe an entirely different sport. In America, we love fried chicken and we love the wrong type of of football. We are an island unto ourselves. And on that island, we will watch football on our couch while eatting delicious fried chicken until we all die of obesity. (Alan Jackson, get in the studio — this has ‘platinum single’ written all over it.)
Message: D –
The Dallas Cowboys of Football Food Commercials
Failure to execute time and time again
This should have been an easy sell. Get the guys from The League (perhaps TV’s most under-appreciated show) to appear in a bunch of ads where they argue football, eat KFC, drink beers and make fun of each other (you know…what guys really do when they watch sports). It would be hilarious, true football fans would see the clips and they’d probably buy KFC chicken as a result. This is called “advertising money well-spent.” It’s a term whose usage is akin to seeing a white snow leopard. What KFC did instead was get a bunch of second-rate generic actors to butcher some very easy one-liners, like these:
THE ILLOGICAL MATH ONE LINER
At the :20 second mark: “Friends + Football + KFC = Couchgating. What’s the square root of that? Original Recipe bite.”
The fact that this math equation makes sense infuriates me. The point of the illogical math one liner is that the punchline is funny, not mathematically correct. I’m about to go all Good Will Hunting and punch Prof. Gerald Lambeau in the face. “This KFC math equation? This is easy for me.”
THE MISSED PUNCHLINE ONE LINER
At the :30 second mark: “Is that person couchgating? No. That person is failing.”
The easy line here is “No. That person is failgating.”
I’m about to go all Chuckie Sullivan and punch some smarmy Harvard trust funder in the face. “You’z all freezahin yah butt off in da cold tailgaitin’ while I’m eatin’ ah bucket ah KFC ahn may couch. How da ya like dem apples?”
This ad = The Detroit Lions’ 2013 season.
Big promise with Bad delivery
Sometimes teams and ideas just don’t deliver. Crap ideas and bad one-liners just pop out of your head (you only need to watch Terry Bradshaw for two minutes to know all about this) and stars like Megatron can’t save a sinking ship. But with months of time and access to the thousands of hilarious writers, Twitter personalities and actors, #couchgating should have been, wait for it — fall off your couch — hilarious. The idea of tailgating at home is ripe for parody. If you’ve ever been to a tailgate you know all the ills of the tailgate experience. It’s often brutally cold, there is no bathroom within a one-mile radius, everyone is fall-down prom night drunk, manning grills spewing fire and footballs are flying with the “heads up” coming only after your nose has been broken. Instead KFC went the easy route and wait for it — really dropped the ball. A advertising embarressment of Super Bowl proportions. #Couchgating? More like #failgating.
More AdSnacking on Food Republic: