Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) Film, Digital, Case study 11 HERBS & SPICES by Wieden + Kennedy Portland


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Industry Fast food
Media Film, Digital, Interactive & Mobile, Case study
Market United States
Agency Wieden + Kennedy Portland
Creative Director Freddie Powell, Jarrod Higgins
Creative Jesse Johnson, Kate Rutkowski, Rob Archibald
Released February 2018


One Show 2018
Social Media Branded Social Post / Single Silver

Credits & Description

Brand KFC
WIEDEN+KENNEDY Portland, USA Entrant Company
WIEDEN+KENNEDY Portland, USA Idea Creation
Jason Kreher Wieden + Kennedy Creative Direction
Freddie Powell Wieden + Kennedy Creative Direction
Michael Brandes Wieden + Kennedy Copy writing
Nicole Blauw Wieden + Kennedy Art Direction
Eddye Borgese Wieden + Kennedy Production
Jesse Johnson Wieden + Kennedy Account Services
Rob Archibald Wieden + Kennedy Account Services
Madeline Parker Wieden + Kennedy Account Services
Britton Taylor Wieden + Kennedy Strategy
John Dempsey Wieden + Kennedy Strategy
Karen Zack Wieden+Kennedy Copywriter
Adam Crouch Wieden+Kennedy Art Director

These days, people are promiscuous when it comes to fast food, as a result, the fast food category is driven by news. It’s all about the deal of the day, what craving comes to mind first, or what’s new and interesting. For brands like KFC, this means you have to stay in the news, culture, and top of mind to survive.
Lucky for KFC, it has one of the most iconic secret recipes in the world: the 11 herbs & spices. But in recent years, the brand had done little to promote it. In a category where being distinctive is key, why weren’t we using this brand asset to our advantage?
The objective was simple: use KFC’s social channels to drive awareness and engagement around the 11 herbs & spices. But this also meant getting a broad, younger audience to talk about and share this message—something easier said than done.
We started by asking ourselves why a brand needs to follow 35,000 users on Twitter. There’s no real interaction with any of these accounts and the significance of being followed by KFC was lost by the high number. By bucking convention and ditching all the accounts KFC followed, we were able to hide a subtle joke about the famous recipe in plain sight.
It was important that this wasn’t force fed through the media—earned or paid—to maintain genuine interest. Otherwise we risked losing the inherent pass-around value of an “easter egg” discovery on KFC’s Twitter page.
By not pushing it with PR or media, the discovery of the joke prompted true social behavior and sharing—something Twitter users would be less likely to do with an ad or promoted tweet.

While we weren’t sure it would ever be found, we knew the potential upside was worth it.

The 11 Herbs & Spices is the world’s most iconic recipe and the foundation of KFC’s world-famous fried chicken, invented by Colonel Sanders himself. But KFC does little to promote this secret recipe.
So we ditched all 35,000 accounts KFC followed on Twitter and followed just 11 back: 5 Spice Girls and 6 guys named Herb. 11 Herbs & Spices. Then we waited.
When the joke was finally found, it quickly caught fire, showing up in news and media across the globe. 2.5 billion impressions and 360,000 mentions later, the world was talking about KFC’s fried chicken recipe.
We never anticipated just how big it would be.
In the first 48 hours alone, our easter egg generated 1.6M mentions on Twitter.
Thanks to @edgette22’s tweet, KFC’s 11 herbs & spices were talked about nearly everywhere, in places like Thrillist, Time, Uproxx, Fox News, Complex, Food & Wine, Refinery29, Eater, Huffington Post, AV Club, CNET, and BuzzFeed, to name a few. It even spread across the globe, showing up in places like the Sun, on CNN Philippines, and in Lifehacker Australia.
It was the #1 post on Reddit’s front page with over 113,000 upvotes, and popular Instagrammer @fuckjerry posted about it, gathering over 486,000 likes. It was even immortalized on Know Your Meme.
To date, his tweet has over 317,000 retweets and 707,000 likes.
Best of all, the Twitter joke cost nothing to execute, save for the painting we sent to our intrepid Twitter sleuth.
After planting our easter egg, we waited. And waited. And waited.
Finally, one Twitter user, Mike “@edgette22” Edge, tweeted about his discovery. While he wasn’t the first to do so, something about his tweet set off a whirlwind of conversation. In a matter of days, his tweet began to rack up thousands upon thousands of likes and retweets. News outlets across the country began to pick up the story.
We quickly replied to him, asking him to reach out when he was ready, which was both a reference to his original tweet (“KFC follows 11 accounts. 5 Spice Girls and 6 guys named Herb. 11 Herbs & Spices. I need time to process this.”) and a subtle way to buy us more time to prepare our response.
To reward @edgette22, we sent him a painting of him with the Colonel, which also gave us one more boost of earned coverage.
Campaign Description
Simply sharing a tweet or Instagram post about the 11 herbs & spices wouldn’t do us any good. It would just come across as yet another ad from a fast food brand trying to talk about their ingredients or process. If we were to meet our objective of both awareness AND engagement, we needed to use the social platforms in a more unexpected way.
So rather than blasting out our message about the 11 herbs & spices, our idea was simple: hide an easter egg in KFC’s Twitter account by following only 11 people—six guys named Herb and all five Spice Girls. We quietly unfollowed the 35,000 accounts KFC was following, followed our Herbs and Spices, and then waited.