How to solve a problem like The Colonel.

Cannes Lions 2018 has been and gone in what felt like the blink of an eye this past month and now the dust has settled, it was time to reflect on the forever delivering festival of creativity, and across all of the winners and losers, the ads and the campaigns, there was one ad in particular certainly got our own, and many others, hearts pounding. 

Standing tall, in all of it’s red, white and breaded glory, KFC’s ‘FCK’ campaign by creative agency Mother London, took home the gold Lions in PR and Print. The apologetic, foul-mouthed print ad was executed, to what can only be described as perfection, running in only two national papers and completely overturning what was fast becoming a PR nightmare, on its head. Before the ad ran, the negative press was obvious to all. It was a feeding frenzy, so to speak. A fried chicken joint that ran out of chicken. You just couldn’t make it up and the media was loving it, social media was loving it and I’m sure the guys over at McDonald's were “(I’m) loving it” it as well… see what I did there?

Through a single ad, the narrative was not only brought under control, but it was beautifully lead into the direction that KFC wanted and delivered in a way which had creatives across the world licking their lips. Rearranging three letters and adding a single paragraph of copy, Mother London managed to do for KFC, what most brands can only dream of, and made people forgive. It made people empathise and in fact, it made people laugh. It probably made a few people hungry as well. A video ad soon followed, again delivered flawlessly by Mother, introducing Mr Sanders to the screen as a live action character and just like that; The Colonel was back. Back on our screens, and in our hearts. The ad was equally as engaging as it’s printed cousin, with an aggressive soundtrack and colour grade mixing with archive footage from the KFC vault, and of course, the money shot of falling fried chicken. It was as if there was never a crisis in the first place. As KFC reaped the benefits, the situation certainly got us thinking in the studio, and struck a chord as to why we provide video to our clients.

When a client commissions us for a piece of work, the vast majority of the time, the brief is going to revolve around an idea of positivity, on responding to a joyous event or on advertising the good that a client is has been doing. But as the KFC crisis has shown us, this nature of commissioning doesn’t necessarily need to be the case all of the time. Not only can we use video as a tool to promote, but we can also use it as a tool to be reactive when faced with the desperate need for a bit of crisis management. When criticism is being flung at you from both sides and when you desperately need to speak to an audience and get your message across, or in this case, an apology, a single video has the power to change everything. To ease criticisms, change a narrative or offering an explanation, engaging video content will always be the most effective way to connect with your audience. From the KFC crisis, we now realise that content doesn’t need to be left exclusively to shout out about the good we are all doing in the world… sometimes, it’s good to be bad and admit our errors. Just ask The Colonel.

To discuss ways in which video can help your brand speak to different audiences or for a bit of crisis management, drop us a message at


Words: James Parr