It’s not every day you get to see a building in the shape of a giant chicken, let alone one that can get up and walk away. But that’s the delightfully hallucinogenic conceit of a sweet little five-minute animated short from KFC and Wieden + Kennedy, celebrating the renovation of one of its marquee restaurants with a story of a little boy who befriends a roving animatronic fast-food store.
Marietta, Georgia, an Atlanta suburb, is home to The Big Chicken, a KFC franchise famous for its unusual architecture—namely, a towering, 56-foot-tall, angular red hen with mechanical eyes that roll in slow 360 degree circles, and a beak that opens and closes in sync, like some deranged obstacle in an 8-bit video game. After a 12-week, $2.2 million renovation to modernize, The Big Chicken reopened this spring.
Now, the store’s owner—KPB Foods—and KFC agency W+K are out with “Big Chicken. Small Movie,” created by local animation shop Awesome Inc.
A surreal buddy flick, it opens with a young boy somewhat plausibly hugging The Big Chicken, because he apparently loves it, and very plausibly, if sadly, being bullied by his peers for doing so. After drawing various pictures of it—as a Big Chicken Rock Star, and Big Chicken Sphinx, and Big Chicken Super Hero—the boy heads home and goes to bed, only to discover in the morning that the chicken, upon seeing one of said flattering drawings, has followed him and is waiting outside his window.
Camaraderie ensues, as they embark on a series of adventures, bounding through fields and forests, staring at the clouds, and stopping for some boiled peanuts—which apparently, but unsurprisingly, giant chickens love to guzzle.
Meanwhile, back in town, the missing chicken building cause a panic. Townspeople post flyers, cops chatter into radios, online commenters pine for the not-quite-edible edifice to come home.
Eventually, word reaches the boy, and the chicken. They march back into town, where the public greets them with a parade, as if they were returning war heroes. Everybody lives happily ever after, screaming and cheering at the restored bird tower, a capitalist twist on a Stalin-esque monument to 10-piece buckets and 11 secret herbs and spices. (Bow to the chicken, puny humans. Bow to the chicken.)
A whimsical metaphor for The Big Chicken’s temporary closure, the film doubles as a nice little parable about the power of imagination to help a lonely kid stretch his artistic talents and have a little fun. The farm-animal vibes can’t but be slightly evocative of Chipotle’s more moralistic, cause-driven animations from a few years back, though the fact that The Big Chicken is a steel structure helps abstract it from the more sinister fact that it represents the creature that the kid will presumably stuff into his face on his next visit to KFC.
Nobody tell him, though.
VP of Marketing, KBP Foods: Anthony Gianino,
Agency: Wieden + Kennedy, Portland, Ore.
Executive Creative Directors: Eric Baldwin, Jason Bagley
Creative Directors: Jason Kreher, Freddie Powell
Copywriter: Mike Egan
Art Directors: Matthew Carroll, Tim Semple
Producer: Blake Carrillo
Production Company: Awesome Inc
Director & Lead Design: Craig Sheldon
Executive Producer: Ashley Kohler
Line Producer: Allison Sanders
Design: Chris Anderson
Lead Storyboard Artist: Craig Sheldon
Storyboard Artists: Guillermo Comin, Billie Liao
Character Design: Sofia Salazar
Animators: Craig Sheldon, Chris Anderson, Joshua Mullinax, Mark McDonald, Edgar Ferrer, Nathan Churney, Jeff DiMaggio
Production Assistant: Titus T. Bug
Editor: Thomas Fine
Studio Manager: Lauren Teasley
Music+Sound Company: Bluetube
Composer: Michael Kohler
Sound Designer: Michael Kohler
Producer: Michael Kohler