KFC's Grilled Chicken Tops Most-Recalled '09 Launches


In a sign of the tough  times, Americans—trading down in their restaurant choices or indulging in comfort food—had more memorable encounters with new fast-food products than any other category this year.

QSR entries comprised five of the top 10 of 2009’s Most Memorable New Product Launch Survey, which was conducted by Schneider Associates, IRI and Sentient Decision Science. The results were based on an online  October poll of 1,125 consumers aged 18 and over. For the last two years, technology products dominated the list.

The times seem to have hurt Americans’ memories as well. Worried about jobs, pay cuts and holding on to their homes, a whopping 93 percent of respondents—the highest level in eight years of the survey—could not name one new product launch from a list of 50, according to the survey. 

That happened despite a doubling up of media. Some 66 percent said they watch TV and surf the Web simultaneously, with 85 percent of those online while watching TV, searching for something they just saw on the air.

That combination worked for Yum Brands’ KFC, which made its biggest product launch ever, with Grilled Chicken, and McDonald’s, backing its gourmet-espresso based McCafe beverages with one of its biggest marketing pushes since the ‘70s, when it introduced breakfast offerings.  

Both made the list, with KFC Grilled Chicken at No.1 and McCafe following in second place. The survey’s most memorable launch began with near disaster, after KFC locations couldn’t keep up with demand after Oprah offered free coupons to viewers of her eponymous TV show. That free publicity was a jump start to a massive campaign using traditional media, promotions and social initiatives on Twitter and MySpace.

“Oprah was catalytic. But what made this launch different was that was just one part of a fully integrated campaign,” said Javier Benito, evp, marketing and food innovation, KFC. “The other part of it is that QSRs have a hard time in finding a product that is healthy and tastes great. With KFC Grilled Chicken, we hit the sweet spot.”

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