KFC’s Hilariously Sad Radio Ads Just Won a Grand Prix at Cannes

Ogilvy Johannesburg picks up where 'The Everyman Meal' left off

CANNES, France—Ogilvy & Mather Johannesburg picked up the Radio Grand Prix at Cannes this evening for “The Sad Man Meal,” an angst-ridden trio of ads in which men lament universal moments of first-world sadness.

To a doleful piano, complaints include dropping your phone on your face while reading in bed, seeing ex-girlfriends laugh and being asked to repeat punchlines.

Each ends with “When the limited-offer KFC Double-Down Meal goes off the market on the ninth of January,” which a therapeutic voice concedes is “without a doubt the saddest thing of all.”

Listen to the three ads here:

“Despite all the technology and digital tools we have today, radio is the land of copywriting,” said Radio jury president Mario D’Andrea, president and chief creative officer of Dentsu Brazil. While radio can seem traditional, the jury “saw a lot of good work, maybe some work that wasn’t in other categories.”

“The Sad Man Meal” resonated because KFC is both a “traditional brand with a very traditional way of doing copywriting,” D’Andrea says. “You can see [the] daily routine [of these men] in 30 seconds, which I think is the beauty of this work.”

This is the second straight Radio Grand Prix for KFC and Ogilvy & Mather Johannesburg. Last year they won for “The Everyman Meal,” a similar campaign that humorously reassured men of their manliness, even if they occasionally do “unmanly” things.

“We felt we could not be affected by what happened the year before; the best idea of the year is what we were looking for,” D’Andrea defends. “It wouldn’t be fair to not give a Grand Prix for such a great piece of work just because, the year before, they did something good, too.”

He also felt this is a credit to both KFC and Ogilvy Johannesburg’s craft. “Honestly, it’s still good to see some brands run a big concept” for an extended period of time, “which is not common now,” he said. “Consumers want to relate to brands, not just be aware of something. Fast is not always good.”

What’s more, “we couldn’t deny the work [Ogilvy] did—editing and acting,” D’Andrea added. “Some of the voices are real people and not actors. This felt so real for the target.”

By and large, South Africa swept the Radio category. Ogilvy Johannesburg also won gold for the same campaign, adding to 13 awards total for South Africa alone in the category.

The Philippines also won gold for three separate spots that compose “Lives,” a retail campaign for Fully Booked by McCann Worldgroup in Taguig City. Other golds went to three Y&R Madrid spots for Mariskal Rock Radio; and Y&R São Paulo for “Hitler,” an ad for Brazilian nonprofit CEPIA.

Radio this year was “one of the most difficult categories we had, with many [spots] written for new generations,” says D’Andrea. “At the end of the day, we found out that even with a traditional medium like radio, you can reach anyone.”