Daily Insights

Will KFC’s Influencer Strategy Take Flight?

By: Alizah Asif Farooqi | Apr 15, 2019

Why hire an influencer when you can cook up your own? That’s KFC’s new recipe for success. The fried chicken joint has a new frontman—a self-proclaimed virtual influencer and suave-looking iteration of the classic Colonel—who will take over the brand’s Instagram through April 22.

As fast food brands fight for consumer attention, here’s why the move might actually take flight.

Creativity has been the crux of many restaurant campaigns lately. From Burger King’s dramatic mini-documentary to Denny’s wacky take on Tumblr, the focus on fun seems to be the way to cut through the competition. In this regard, KFC’s decision to tweak the traditional influencer recipe makes sense. Putting a twist on its original mascot also allows the restaurant to keep up a sense of familiarity with customers while introducing something slightly offbeat. The brand’s new virtual chicken connoisseur comes complete with captions that are equal parts humblebrag and overdramatic, and poke fun at the typical influencer script.

Thanks to a slew of scandals and lawsuits, traditional influencers are increasingly acquiring a distasteful tinge. Adding to that, the definition of an influencer is becoming blurry. Instagram stars are stacking up on fake content to gain credit on the grid, while others aren’t real to begin with—but still pull in followers by the bucketful.

Maybe as a result of all this, brands aren’t seeing much of a payoff from mentioning influencers. More than 90% of brands tracked in Gartner L2’s report on social platforms and influencers mentioned influencer handles in posts at least once during the study period, but these mentions actually resulted in negative engagement.

So while his piercing gaze, tatted abs, and salt n’ pepper mane might make the new colonel seem a bit greasy to some, there are more than a few good reasons why KFC may have chosen to go the virtual route. Based on the finger-lickin’ good response social media users are having to the computer-generated Colonel, finding smaller influencers—or simply making up your own—that fit with your aesthetic could be the new hot tactic for brands in search of a steady stream of fresh content and traffic.