KFC brings back iconic '90s hairstyle to promote Famous Bowls meal
- KFC will host a pop-up event in Brooklyn on Jan. 10 to promote its $3 Famous Bowl dish. From 1-5 p.m., fast-food fans can get a free bowl haircut in honor of the dish that's available through Jan. 27, the company announced on its website.
- The fried chicken chain teamed up with hairstylists in New York to design five modern takes on the popular '90s hairstyle, each themed to add some KFC flavor: the Original Recipe, Spork and Bowl, Over the Top, Colonel's Stripes and the Gravy Fall.
- Fans interested in "spherical dishware-inspired haircuts" can book an appointment for the Jan. 10 event on a microsite and are encouraged to share photos of their new look on Twitter via the hashtag #KFCFamousBowl.
With its Famous Bowl Cuts promotion, KFC is leaning heavily into the '90s nostalgia trend by bringing back one of the era's most iconic hairstyles. The activation appears well-suited to spark social media conversations, particularly among millennials, who are grew up in the '90s and have shown a fondness of nostalgia in marketing. These younger consumers also tend to enjoy branded events and activations, where they get the chance to directly interact with their favorite brands in personal, authentic ways.
The bowl haircut gimmick doesn't come as much of a surprise, as KFC has become famous for its quirky marketing stunts, some featuring humorous iterations of its iconic Colonel mascot and fried chicken-themed merchandise. Most recently for the holidays, the Yum Brands company teamed up with Enviro-Log to sell a limited-edition firelog that smells like KFC fried chicken.
These oddball tactics appear to continue to resonate with consumers both online and in person. KFC was listed as having the best brand voice on Twitter in 2018, according to a year-end review by the social platform's U.S. head of brand strategy. The ranking stems from content like KFC's live tweets of the soap opera "General Hospital," which featured a cameo by the brand's Extra Crispy Colonel, played by actor George Hamilton. Part of what makes the quirky, yet gimmicky, stunts stick is that the brand consistently echoes the lighthearted tone of its TV campaigns on social media and authentically engages with consumers on the platforms. This lightheartedness helps to personalize the corporation in the minds of consumers.
Experiential activations like KFC's bowl haircut pop-up this week are a trend that brands are embracing to deepen connections with consumers and build brand awareness while cutting through the competition. KFC isn't alone in using a barbershop theme. Online brokerage firm TradeStation hosted a pop-up barbershop in New York City, letting consumers "Get a Fresh Look" with free haircuts, blue dye jobs and blue wigs. The event tied into the company's rebranding and redesign of its website, logo and online user experience. For National Coffee Day in October, Dunkin' and Unilever-brand Dove Hair hosted the Dove x Dunkin' Styling Café in New York to build on the "I run on coffee and dry shampoo" meme popularized among social media users.