This is the story of how the underdog wins from its biggest competitor through a smart idea. KFC is the only quick service restaurant in the Netherlands that serves fresh, hand breaded chicken. We call this Original Recipe Chicken and it’s what we do best. But in May 2018, McDonald’s went all in with the launch of their new Homestyle Crispy Chicken Burger and claimed they had the best fresh chicken. We had to fight back. However, compared to McDonald’s, KFC is really small in the Netherlands. The brief and its objective were simple: come up with an idea to counter McDonald’s multi-million Euro campaign, while making sure that people see KFC as the only original hand breaded fried chicken place in the country. A very ambitious brief when you realize that McDonald’s is 8 times bigger, with 5x more restaurants and 6x higher budgets. We only had one chance to do this right and we needed to be extremely quick to protect our leading position in fried chicken. It was essential to inspire our most precious key targets; mobile savvy teens and urban millennials.
How to compete with McDonald’s’ multi-million Euro campaign when you don’t have the money to spend? By stealing it! KFC presents: The McHack. A web-app, that uses smart image recognition to hack the McDonald’s chicken ads. Simply snap any McDonalds’s Crispy Chicken ad and get a coupon for original hand breaded chicken at KFC. People could scan any McDonald’s media buy: posters, outdoor ads, Facebook posts, digital out of home, TV commercial or even their very own in-store displays. An entertaining, contagious idea spot on our target audience interest. But on top of that, a smart mobile first way to use McDonald’s’ huge media investment to our advantage and “hack” their attempt to claim our position. We aimed to engage our key targets on a personal level and let them have fun by using what’s already glued to their hands: their smartphones. Knowing that we had a tiny budget to play with, we were in a David versus Goliath situation. So, we had to be smarter and came up with an entertaining and contagious mobile first idea to hack McDonald’s campaign while simultaneously conveying our message where they can get the original Kentucky fried chicken at the same time. The campaign uses a surprising and unusual channel strategy. We didn’t amplify our idea through media buying but took a ‘piggyback ride’ on the huge media investment of our biggest competitor, turning that investment to our advantage. We knew we had to be fast to maximize momentum. The McHack went live within 2 weeks after the start of McDonald’s chicken campaign. The web-app, that uses image recognition based on the latest mobile browser webcam capabilities and a smart photo metadata reading & scaling solution, was build and tested in only 8 days. The hashtag #gettheoriginal immediately revealed the message we wanted to bring across and put people into action. We amplified our campaign via influencers and PR. This gave us massive traction and engagement right from the start. McDonald’s chicken advertising did the rest. The experience was shared, memed, discussed and talked about among our target audience. And the longer the McDonald’s campaign was live, the more ads were scanned, and the more people knew where to get the original fried chicken.