- Just in time for Mother's Day, Yum! Brand's KFC is pairing its $20 Fill-Up meal with a romance novella titled "Tender Wings of Desire," featuring brand icon Harland "Colonel" Sanders, per a company press release. The e-book can also be downloaded on Amazon for a limited time for free, and KFC will give away 100 hard copies along with dinner to fans on Facebook.
- According to the press release, Mother's Day is KFC’s best-selling day of the year, with an average 40% jump in sales on the holiday that serve about 380,000 families.
- "The only thing better than being swept away by the deliciousness of our Extra Crispy Chicken is being swept away by Harland Sanders himself," George Felix, director of advertising for KFC U.S., said in the release. "So this Mother's Day, the bucket of chicken I get for my wife will come with a side of steamy romance novella. Dinner is taken care of and she'll have the time to escape her busy schedule."
Storytelling in content marketing usually refers to crafting a larger narrative around a brand, but, in this case, KFC is taking the tactic down some unusual avenues that still fit into its current messaging strategy of being as weird as possible.
Mother's Day being KFC's biggest sales day of the year points to the brand's positioning as a way for busy moms to serve their families a hot meal without having to cook. The "Tender Wings of Desire" might provide a little extra boost in terms of raising awareness and foot traffic for those looking to get their hands on the "steamy" book.
E-book sales have retrenched somewhat of late, declining 18.7% during the first nine months of 2016. However, the KFC promotion astutely capitalizes on e-book trends, where romance titles make up 45% of sales. In comparison, romance accounts for only 2% of print book sales. The partnership with Amazon makes sense, too, as 74% of e-book sales take place on the platform.
Efforts like KFC's romance novella are fun on paper — pun intended — but have the most value in the chance of going viral. KFC is likely hoping to get people and the media chattering about the sheer ridiculousness of the promotion on social, upping brand mindshare even for those who don't buy into the $20 Fill-Up deal.
Marriott is another brand smartly leveraging original content with a viral edge, but with a more cinematic flair. The hotel chain's ongoing "Two Bellmen" short film series has taken on a life of its own with fans to the point where it even generates extra revenue for Marriott.
Both campaigns are examples of how marketers are using original branded content more and more to promote themselves as interest in traditional advertising wanes.