Yum! Brands Wants KFC to Be Your Prom Date

The fast-food chain gets creative with its latest promotion.

Rich Duprey
Rich Duprey
Apr 16, 2014 at 7:00PM
Consumer Goods

Source: KFC.

For all the problems its KFC chicken chain is experiencing in domestic and international markets, at least Yum! Brands (NYSE:YUM) hasn't lost its sense of humor. In a unique and funny bit of marketing, the chicken joint wants you to take it to your prom. On your wrist.

The new KFC Chicken Corsage is available in Original Recipe, Extra Crispy, or Kentucky Grilled Chicken -- whichever best matches your date's dress -- and is being offered for a limited time through Nanz and Kraft Florists. With only 100 corsages available, however, promgoers may want to get their orders in early.

Yum! operates nearly 4,500 KFC restaurants in the U.S., all but 5% of which are franchise-owned. Sales at the chain fell 2% in the U.S. last year and suffered the ignominy of having Chick-fil-A surpass it as the top chicken restaurant in the country. The woes it suffered in China have been well documented after concerns about the quality and safety of its chicken surfaced in late 2012 and a new outbreak of avian flu swept over the country. 

Chicken is becoming the go-to meat for restaurants. Although McDonald's breakfast dominance is seen as the primary target for restaurants like White Castle stuffing a chicken breast between two waffles to attract customers -- and Yum! is also promoting its Waffle Tacos to steal share -- another burger joint offering a new chicken option suggests all quick-serve restaurants feel the need to go beyond a simple discount promotion.

The promotion Yum! used in China to get sales back on track was a straightforward offer of a bucket of chicken at half price. It needed to move the needle to get customers to remember why they used to come into its stores, and the campaign helped drive comps 16% higher while it was being run. The corsage campaign takes a slightly different tack, though, because the situation here isn't nearly as dire, giving it a chance to score some points for being fun.

Of course, the corsage really doesn't come with a piece of chicken attached to it. Instead, when you buy one you get a $5 gift check that can be used to buy the chicken of your choice. A hundred corsages won't change things much, but it's really a feel-good campaign designed to get people in the door again, boost sales, and have investors think about dating its stock once more.