Look on the Fried Side of Life: Was KFC right to mimic one of lockdowns greatest viral videos in its latest ad campaign?

KFC’s latest social media advert invites you to take a Kentucky Fried staycay, a COVID-friendly alternative to the tropical vacay you may have had planned for the holiday season. It’s a compelling video for sure, and as the saying goes - "imitation is the greatest form of flattery". But let’s set the record straight here - this is not a smart moment of self-isolation satire by KFC’s advertising agency, this social ad is actually a recreation of one of lockdown’s greatest viral videos, piggybacking off the innate creativity of real people, and their genuine unscripted reaction to the restrictions of the pandemic.

I can understand why KFC’s advertising agency jumped on this approach; it’s a particular skill of the ad agency to spot a style or cultural trend and, magpie-like, appropriate it to promote their client’s brand or service. Perhaps this approach was inspired by ITV’s The People’s Ad Break competition?

Earlier this year we saw crowd-sourced video remakes of the biggest award-winning advert of all time, namely Honda Cogs, roundly beating the original in terms of brand recall and emotional intensity. It was a moment that signalled the power of UGC to move hearts and minds.

Newsflare creators Dave and Norma from Melbourne created the original touching moment when they took their 53rd anniversary cruise in front of the TV in their living room, at the start of the first global lockdown. But I question whether mimicry and appropriation of real people is less homage, and more rip-off?

In fact I would go even further and say KFC’s Fried Side of Life social media ad is no match for the original viral video. Why? Because raw, genuine, honest UGC touches hearts and minds in a way artful mimicry never can. The view, share and like figures bear this out.

Some of the best adverts of 2020 have come from the highly creative minds of everyday people. Brands and agencies don’t need to mimic, storyboard or direct the action, they just need to tap into the limitless energy of content creators. Don’t copy creators; just reach out and they’ll deliver you something original, authentic and emotionally-compelling – ‘real’ moments of advertising gold.

Get in touch with Newsflare today to find out how we can crowdsource the content you need to make your next viral ad, before you spend all your budget on creating something less effective.

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