Connecting chicken to the earthquake in Thailand, KFC posted this on its Facebook wall as people were being evacuated from the beaches: "Let's hurry home and follow the earthquake news. And don't forget to order your favorite KFC menu."
People didn't respond well. Admitting its mistake, KFC removed the post within a day and replaced it with this statement:
"KFC Thailand expresses its sincere regret for the improper post on its Facebook page and apologizes for the insensitivity and timing of the message."
This isn't the first time a company used a tragic or emotionally charged event to promote its products (and it probably won't be the last). Kenneth Cole learned a tough lesson when he encouraged people to buy his "spring collection" clothing during the uprising in Cairo. And a blogger called Amy Winehouse's death a "wake-up call for small business owners."
Companies need to be smarter about how they use social media. Sure, they can take some risks, but mixing sales and disaster likely leads only to disaster.
- Can you think of any time when using a tragedy to promote a company's products would be viewed positively, for example, after a certain period of time?
- Assess KFC's apology. Do you find it convincing? Should the company have done anything else to demonstrate its regret?