KFC Ponders Agency Change

Fast-Food Chain Contacts Shops About Its $170 Mil. U.S. Account
NEW YORK–Kentucky Fried Chicken is talking to agencies about its estimated $170 million ad account, the bulk of which is handled by Young & Rubicam, here, sources said. The move may signal a desire to review the business or serve as a warning to the incumbent, sources said.
KFC has been a Y&R client for more than 20 years. KFC’s other roster shop is Creative Alliance in the client’s hometown of Louisville, Ky. CA handles an estimated $30 million worth of print-ad duties. Y&R’s The Media Edge handles media tasks.
One source said KFC was “generally unhappy with the work” from Y&R, which has been juggling the client’s corporate-image and retail needs. But about two weeks ago, Y&R presented a new campaign to KFC executives that was well received, sources said. A follow-up meeting is scheduled for later this month, said sources. Y&R declined comment.
KFC officials could not be reached at press time, but sources said at least two New York shops have been asked to submit creative reels.
One source said KFC has a good relationship with CA, whose January Group subsidiary won the $7 million KFC co-op account for the Chicago area earlier this year.
A recent TV spot from Y&R focuses on food with picnicking 20-somethings. A voiceover says, “Picnics aren’t red-checkered tablecloths anymore. Sometimes there aren’t even tables.” The spot ends with a fireworks display.
In ’98, Y&R introduced an animated, jazzed-up version of the founder, Col. Harland Sanders, voiced by actor Randy Quaid.
KFC ranks sixth among quick-service restaurants, with sales of $4.3 billion last year, per Technomic. McDonald’s is No. 1 ($19 billion).
If it comes to pass, a KFC review would mark the fourth significant Y&R account to go up for
grabs this year. Others include the $114 million U.S. Army account (won last week by Leo Burnett) and the $150-170 million Citibank account, which Y&R unsuccessfully defended.
–with T.W. Siebert