Fictioneer-with-a-law-degree Matthew David Brozik (not David Marc Nieporent) writes about Colonel Sanders‘s identity crisis. I too was intrigued when I noticed the “KFC” people were playing the guitar lick from “Sweet Home Alabama” behind their commercials. Alabama? Kentucky? Yes to the Confederacy, no to grease-fried pullets?
Really the whole KFC thing is a branding nightmare. Check this out from the official site:
In January 1997, PepsiCo, Inc. announced the spin-off of its quick service restaurants — KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut — into an independent restaurant company, Tricon Global Restaurants, Inc. In May 2002, the company announced it received shareholders’ approval to change it’s [sic] corporation [sic] name to Yum! Brands, Inc. The company, which owns A&W All-American Food Restaurants, KFC, Long John Silvers, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell restaurants, is the world’s largest restaurant company in terms of system units with nearly 32,500 in more than 100 countries and territories.
Basically, the whole food court at the mall is the Colonel’s red-necked deep-fried spawn. And is Brozik right about the re-branding implied by that commercial? Actually, it may be even more sinister than the Fictioneer thinks, according to Slate:
The recent KFC ads are unremarkable. Mostly the usual stuff: shots of hungry men digging bicep-deep into a bucket of wings. But there’s this strange little phrase — “kitchen fresh chicken” — that keeps popping up in the ads.
Well, I’m no Jacques Derrida. But I feel I may have deduced a semiological link here, between “kitchen fresh chicken” and “KFC.” It sure looks as though someone wants to sneakily breathe new life into a tired, fading abbreviation*. The question is: Will they get away with it?
You’ll recall that KFC at one time stood for Kentucky Fried Chicken. Right up until 1991, when they ditched all the actual words and just went with a monogram. Dieting trends had made “fried” a dirty cuss, and the plan was to banish it from view. Voila: KFC.
“Kitchen Fresh Chicken”? The revival of “Kentucky Fried”? Which will be the yummiest, heart-cloggiest brand of the Yum! brands? And should anything this awful ever happen to a trademark?