Tuesday night, the two remaining contestants on Fox's American Idol will have one more chance to show off their pipes as they seek the most votes from the TV audience. By Wednesday, the votes will have been counted, and one of the two will not be the next American Idol.

Fortunately, YUM! Brands' (NYSE:YUM) KFC chain has decided to offer a consolation prize for America's second-favorite new pop star. It's hard to blame KFC for trying to latch onto the show's momentum, but the way it's doing so is a bit puzzling.

The fried-chicken chain is offering the runner-up a $10,000 recording deal to write and star in an advertisement for its newest entree, KFC Famous Bowls. And that's not all: The former contestant also will get a year's supply of the new menu item. Granted, the deal is not as glamorous as the RCA recording contract that the winner gets, but KFC is evidently betting that whoever comes in second will want to stay in the spotlight enough to accept the offer.

It's perfectly understandable that KFC wants to tap into the American Idol phenomenon. After all, CKE Restaurants (NYSE:CKR) attracted lots of attention when it hired reality-show star and billionaire heiress Paris Hilton for an ad. In addition, American Idol has a much wider reach than Hilton's show had. TV experts forecast that it will pull in at least 35 million viewers for each of the next two nights. Having the program's runner-up as spokesman would undoubtedly raise KFC's brand profile, and it seems like an economical way to get attention, because he or she is likely to command a lower fee than the winner.

Still, KFC's tactics for landing Idol's runner-up seem more than a little odd. Through the announcement, KFC is making public its desire to hire a spokesman it might not get. Furthermore, by making the deal terms public, the chain appears to be closing off avenues for negotiation if the second-place finisher is interested. All of this seems to add up to a recipe for disappointment and embarrassment for KFC. In the future, it might want to follow CKE's lead in waiting until it has actually signed someone before issuing a press release.

Fool contributor Brian Gorman is a freelance writer in Chicago. He does not own shares of any companies mentioned in this article.