KFC reminds us of the importance of culturally sensitive marketing


In addition to chicken, KFC is causing controversy.

On August 24, Azim Akhtar, KFC Canada’s Chief Marketing Officer, tweeted some images of billboards from the company’s new “Fingerlicking Good” campaign.

While the ads are meant to be playful, suggesting that utensils aren’t necessary to enjoy KFC, X users were quick to point out that all of the images showed black people eating fried chicken and eating fried chicken. harmful stereotypes.

After receiving the rejection, Akhtar took to X to clarify that the images printed were part of a larger campaign and shared a video version of the ad featuring a diverse group of actors throwing utensils aside. to enjoy KFC with their hands.

Even though sharing the video was an attempt to provide broader context, social media users were left behind. wondering why the designs used on billboards did not reflect the diversity of advertising. Other commentators speculated that the images were intentionally used to stir up controversy.

The Importance of Culturally Competent Marketing

Although fried chicken is not inherently racial, North America has a history to stereotype black people’s consumption of fried chicken, using it as a demeaning trope. Not taking this historical context into account is definitely a faux pas for the brand.

We saw another example earlier this summer during the Barbie the promotion of the film. The official Warner Bros. movie X account. shared lightly answers to images made by fans of Barbie and Oppenheimer. This decision was seen as distasteful by the Japanese public given the history of nuclear weapons used in Japan during World War II. Warner Bros. later apologized for the callous engagement.

These examples show the importance of culturally competent marketing. To avoid such mistakes in the future, marketing teams should aim to:

  • Understand relevant historical context and how different demographics may be affected by a piece of context
  • Recruit diverse teams made up of marketers with different backgrounds and experiences who can provide the necessary insights
  • Constantly examine, challenge and deconstruct biases that may appear in their content

While outrage can contribute to virality, not all engagement is necessarily good engagement. Culturally insensitive content breaks public trust and can overshadow the potentially positive experiences a customer can have with a brand.

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