This is definitely one of the most insightful article with regards to China, a fast and growing market.AdAge reports the recent campaign by KFC in China on how they are adopting the cliche but sure-win approach of celebrity endorsements. This campaign by Ogilvy, takes celebrity endorsements onto another level. What interests me is how receptive the market in China is from their reaction to many stale marketing tactics. Using a group of five influential celebrities, the campaign aims to go for the kill through not only a collective celebrity power, but also tapping on the celebrities’ social fan base. Taking into consideration that one of the actors has a staggering 72 million followers on Weibo, it is potentially a lethal marketing cannon.
As much I believe, China is quickly becoming a very digitally savvy nation. Ogilvy Shanghai, fully aware of this rising trend, leverages on it with their digital campaign for KFC. They immediately focus on using these celebrities to advertise on engaging social media activities. One for instance, aims to motivate fans to compete against one another over the amount of “likes” for their favorite celebrities. Another very fruitful insight from AdAge talks about the fact that KFC has been one of the biggest and most successful food chain with the longest history in China, since its penetration 27 years ago. A whopping 2,600 outlets in China alone is seriously no joke. A bigger market equity than McDonalds by itself is an amazing feat.
However, as the the brand suffers a decline in operations, branding and sales due to the avian flu outbreak and health inspections, it was devoid of a good strategy to fight back. Now with more marketing campaigns and excellent strategic brand initiatives, the brand is taking back its helm.
What I believe to be extremely essential is an extract from Adage‘s article:
“Celebrities are often used as a quick and easy way to sell products in China,” acknowledged Graham Fink, Ogilvy & Mather‘s chief creative officer for greater China. He pointed out that the same celebrities are often tapped by many brands.
“I think that more and more people are beginning to see through this ‘cheap’ tactic, and the brand will ultimately suffer as a result,” he said. But if the celeb seems “genuinely involved in the message they become more believable, and this is what we are trying to do with KFC.”
A top national executive for KFC’s parent company, Yum!, noted that China is the world’s biggest digital society (with 618 million people online) and that Chinese consumers are “moving at the speed of a bullet train.”
The brand is seeking to revamp its menu and offerings every 12 months and I believe this would constantly refresh their image and presence in the eyes of the consumer. When done effectively, shall be a very deciding factor when it comes to triumphing strict competition between competitors on an industry level.
Milind Pant, president and chief operating officer for Yum! China, wrote in an email that “urban Chinese are becoming the most digital savvy group in the world, offering opportunities for brands to innovate and communicate.”
The menu revamp is part of what KFC has labeled its “restage,” which includes new product packaging, uniforms, store designs, a mobile app, an e-menu and a prepay takeout offering.
And of course, not forgetting that bigger companies comes with a heavier inertia and requires longer time to maneuver effectively.
“I think it’s very difficult to steer such a big chain in a new direction,” he said. “And it took this situation with the antibiotics to really force them into making some fairly dramatic changes … A complete revamp of the brand is a good idea.”