Cheaper than advertising


Perhaps you are aware of the recent skull-and-dagger derring-do revolving around the once in a lifetime top secret transporation and holding operation for the recipe for Kentucky Fried Chicken (or as it said at one of the chain’s outlets in Montreal that we saw once in our travels, Poulet Frit a la Kentucky). Apparently KFC is mucking out the safe where they keep the recipe or maybe they’re installing an extra padlock or two. At any rate, as far as we know, you are not aware of the event due to any advertising purchased by the late Col. Sanders’ outfit – the publicity is all gratis thanks to clever manipulation of the press. All the company had to do was shell out a nominal one-time capex investment to hire a few rent-a-cops and the services of an armored car (and, most likely, some PR costs), and they were able to get their brand name splashed all over the media.

RBR/TVBR observation: A large portion of the advertising-supported media is in the journalism business one way or another. And all media is bombarded daily with a massive amount of incoming information that needs to be sorted into three piles. There’s the legitimate news pile (usually the smaller of the three), there’s the dumpster pile, and there’s the pile you may wish to refer to the sales department, in those cases where the message is mainly of interest to the provider of the information who is essentially trolling for clients. The KFC effort belongs in the third category. It’s not really news. (In fact, you’d think a team of scientists could easily break down the secret recipe into its various components with very little difficulty, assuming of course that the Colonel did not have access to materials from some other planet or parallel dimension or something.) By rights, the entire world of journalism should have said, “Thank you, your Colonelship – buy an ad.” But give the folks at KFC some credit – their story was well crafted and provides some in the media with a chance to riff off of it and thereby make the news a little more entertaining. And check it out: It is one of the very rare mentions KFC has ever gotten, or ever will, in RBR/TVBR.