I do like the KFC “Shut up and take my money” campaign.

Or rather, to be clear, I do like the first two ads in the series.

The sleazy boss buying lunch for his overworked staff.

And the delightful retirement home ad. 

I would love to say they’re Australian made.

Sadly, I don’t believe they are.

For a couple of reasons.

The fashion. It just screams Florida Retirement Home.

The way it was shot.

The delightfully just-overplayed acting.

A delightfully tongue-in-cheek scenario that had a simple message, “It’s easy to make friends with KFC”. And showed that even tight-arses can afford the greasy goodness that makes them seem generous.

The ads show a level of maturity from KFC I’ve never seen before and made me believe they might just have turned a corner.

It made me want to buy some KFC. For the first time in a long time. KFC! Oooh, my.

Then, last night, I saw the new version. Kids in the car.

An Australian addition to the campaign.

From the looks of the ad, a much cheaper offering.

Less post-production. Simpler editing. Less nuanced acting.

And a simple message, “KFC is so tempting, I would abrogate all responsibility for one taste of that finger-lickin’ artery hardener.”

Which makes me not like KFC.

Not because I hate the ad. Or the production values. Or because I have a moral responsibility to the health of the nation’s children.

But because they’ve won me over with humour. Then used that humour again. Badly. To get my attention. And, rather than reward my attention, just try and flog me a pack of greasy chook.  It was like hearing a bad impersonator do a bad impression of your favourite comedian.

Hello. Hello. Is this thing on?

It could have had the same message as the others in the series – man has screaming kids in car, sees KFC ad, they all share KFC and peace ensues.


They didn’t.

Maybe because research groups don’t like seeing kids eating fried food. (Just a guess. But I’ve sat in enough research groups to not be surprised if that was the case.)

It could so easily have been saved.

By not using kids. (We know kids love fried chicken. We don’t need to show it. Trust me.)

By not sticking to the same situation once the end of the ad had died in research. (What you have there, my friend, is a zombie ad and best dealt with using a spade and a mincing machine.)

By sticking to the message. “Make friends with KFC.” (Again. Don’t use kids. Use rugby players. They’re just like children but no one cares if they have a heart attack.)

While the challenge for any advertiser is to turn attention into a sale, the trick is to ensure the attention is rewarded.

If we reward the customer, they will reward us.

If we build their expectations of a reward, then slap them with a wet fish, their level of indifference will sink lower than before we made them like us again.

That’s the danger of running a great ad.

You set a new benchmark.

It’s why great brands make great ads.

And bad brands just make you sad.