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Crisis comms: KFC and the chicken shortage

For all major brands it’s the day they hope will never come, a major customer service crisis that not only has significant short term consequences, but can also lead to long term trust and reputational problems.

This week it’s KFC’s chicken shortage, as the company battles to rectify the significant shortage in chicken being delivered to its 900 UK stores due to switching from its long-term supplier Bidvest to DHL.


Whilst many stores may still be closed or experiencing reduced opening hours or menu offering, KFC’s communications with its customers has been hailed as being second to none. The brand has identified the problem straightaway across its social channels in an honest and frank way, whilst also remaining perfectly in-line with its usual tone of voice of the iconic Colonel.

Using the strapline ‘The chicken crossed the road… just not to our restaurants’ is in keeping with the colloquial and humorous conversation the brand has online with its customers, whilst also including key messages of quality and service: ‘We won’t compromise on quality, so no deliveries has meant some of our stores are closed.’

Here KFC has managed to incorporate what could traditionally be a corporate and dry message into a more light-hearted response that is synonymous with the KFC brand. It’s this combination between tone of conversation and serious messaging that has been so well received by professionals within the industry.

Its current crisis comms has also taken a further step with the creation of a unique webpage that lists all restaurants currently open in alphabetical order. Whilst the brand is currently being lambasted by the GMB Union in the national press for changing suppliers after recommendations not to do so, KFC’s own communications remain consistent and constant, continuing to update customers with more information at every available opportunity.

Many customers are understandably unhappy about the shortage and closure of their nearest restaurants and have taken to social media to voice their frustrations. However, the irony of the problem appears to have taken the initial anger out of the situation, with tweets from customers now taking a more humorous approach.

While it appears the fast food giant is handling the current situation well, it has a lot more work to do in order to keep the egg off its face long term. KFC must ensure DHL completely rectifies its logistic issues to prevent the problem from happening again, a scenario that would seriously damage the brand’s reputation and lead to serious trust issues.


If you’d like more information on how HROC can help you with your corporate comms in the middle of a crisis, please give us a call on 0121 454 9707 or email gary.hebblethwaite@hroc.co.uk.