Ad of the Day: KFC

Is the chicken chain overreaching by trying to be too artful?

It's still a long way from fine dining, but KFC suddenly seems interested in providing an aesthetic experience. At least, in its advertising. At least, overseas. Last month, we took a close look at BBH London's gorgeous backyard-picnic spot for the chicken chain. Now, we get this charming yet peculiar piece from Ogilvy South Africa that, like the BBH spot, trades heavily in nostalgia—but this time with mixed results.

It opens with a grand shot of an enormous tree, its leaves and branches bristling in the wind—setting a subtle genealogical tone for what is to follow. Next, we see an elderly woman opening a second-story window off the balcony of her quite ornate-looking house. Some kids are eating KFC on a bench below. The woman catches a whiff of the food, smiles wistfully and turns back from the window—and into the arms of her husband, who, it appears, is suddenly in the mood for dancing. As the couple waltz through their home, they get younger and younger, Benjamin Button style, as Ellie Goulding's version of Elton John's "Your Song" plays. By the end, they're two kids again, lying on a bed—as the girl simply says to the boy: "I'm hungry."

It's a nice idea. There is, after all, a primal connection between the sense of smell and one's episodic memory. The reverse-aging thing is done skillfully, too. And the music suitably plucks at the heartstrings. The only trouble is, unlike the BBH spot, which was beautiful but rough around the edges, here the mood just feels too refined for the brand. Fried chicken is something you'll eat on a summer night with friends and family—but it's not the cycle of life. Thus, both the product cameo at the beginning and the logo at the end feel tacked on—and weirdly out of place. Plus, it borders on the comical to suggest, even metaphorically, that KFC reverses the aging process.

A brand has to already be elegant in some way to shoulder the burden of a sweeping, life-encompassing message like this. The British retailer John Lewis did it better in last year's commercial that covered 70-plus years in a woman's life in 90 seconds—but even that felt like reaching.

This time, KFC has just bitten off more than it can chew.


Client: KFC

Spot: "Lifetime"

Agency: Ogilvy, Johannesburg, South Africa

Executive Creative Director: Fran Luckin

Creative Director: Mike Martin

Agency Producer: Liske Van Tubbergh

Agency Art Director: Alexa Craner

Copywriter: Irene Styger

Production Company: Bouffant

Director: Erik van Wyk

Producer: Shannon Gloyne

Producer: Melina McDonald

Director of Photography: Tim Pike

Production Art Director: Julie Bonnet

Postproduction Company: Upstairs Post

Postproduction Editor: Kobus Loots

Visual Effects Company: Sinister Post

Music Company: Sony

Postproduction Online: Sinister Post

Postproduction Online: Pudding/Blade

Postproduction Offline: Upstairs