Unexpected Un-Partnerships

November 14th, 2007


I’ve often said that great PR is really just common sense in fast forward.  James O’Reilly, Chief Marketing Officer of KFC today proved that.  In a perfectly timed marketing move, KFC is making international news with its official offer to Stephen Colbert to be president for a day at their Louisville headquarters.  Duties include: sorting the left wings from the right wings, and a “State of the Chicken” address.  He’d be sworn in using the book that contains KFC’s secret recipe.

Colbert launched a bid for the American presidency on his program, “The Colbert Report.” He attempted to run for president via the South Carolina ticket, only to lose his spot on the ballot.

KFC’s company headquarters is in a building called the “White House,” so it’s a perfect offer.  But, what makes this so brilliant is the execution.  The “unexpected un-partnership” promotion required no contact with Colbert and no license agreement with Comedy Central.  It simply released an “open letter” to Colbert with a photo of a Colbert look-alike in front of KFC’s White House headquarters.

Below is the itemized budget I imagined:
            Open letter draft - $150
            Photoshop graphic of KFC White House - $300
            PR Newswire Distribution - $2,500
            Legal approval to do such a crazy thing - $5,000

The last line of the news release is always my favorite: “No word yet on whether Colbert has accepted.”

Open Letter from KFC to Colbert:

November 12, 2007

An open letter to Stephen Colbert:

We’ve been closely following the news around your decision to run for president, including the recent development that your name will not be allowed on the ballot in South Carolina.

We know you are disappointed, but there are many KFC staffers who are proud members of ColbertNation and we are here to help.

It is with great pride that I tell you that KFC has the power to pave your road to the White House, and to offer you the presidency! No ballot, election or voting required.

KFC Headquarters in Louisville, Ky., is located in a building called the White House and we’d like to invite you to our White House to serve as KFC president for a day.

Your day as president would begin with a “swearing in” ceremony, where you’ll place your hand on the book containing the Colonel’s secret recipe. Your first official duty would be to help us sort the “left wings” from the “right wings.” We’d also like you to hold a “State of the Chicken” address with some of America’s most dedicated restaurant managers.

One of the best things about being KFC president for a day is that you don’t have to choose sides. We have plenty of mashed potatoes and gravy, cole slaw and macaroni and cheese to go around, and KFC will allow you the liberty of enjoying all of our sides!

Colonel Sanders brought Southern Hospitality to fried chicken fans around the world, and we think you’ll enjoy experiencing our Southern Hospitality during your one-day term as president of KFC. Your chance at a seat in the oval office may have been denied, but you’ll always have a seat at KFC’s dinner table.

With the ongoing writers’ strike, I assume there is some free time on your calendar. I look forward to giving you a tour of your White House office soon.


Gregg Dedrick
President of KFC


This isn’t the first time they’ve used the “unexpected virtual partnership” concept.  In February, KFC introduced their Fish Snacker by inviting Pope Benedict XVI himself to do an official blessing for Lent.  All it took was a personal letter to the Vatican.

Incredibly, the Vatican officials confirmed they received KFC’s request.  And ….wait for it….no word yet on whether the Pope as accepted their offer to do the blessing.


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