KFC calls Murali to play

By Neha Kalra , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Advertising | November 24, 2008
The new TVC by KFC features Sri Lankan cricketer Muttiah Muralitharan. However, company officials clarify that he is not the brand ambassador and his association will be just for one commercial

Kentucky & #BANNER1 & # Fried Chicken (KFC) - a Yum! Restaurants' brand - has launched a new commercial, which features Sri Lankan spinner Muttiah Muralitharan. The company continues with the basic idea of Finger-Lickin' Good, but this time, the focus is on the Zinger Burger.

The objective was to convey that KFC is more than simply fried chicken. "It is about giving the brand, KFC, a bigger stature," says Unnat Varma, marketing director, KFC India.

The television commercial went on air on November 21. The concept for the ad was initiated by Piyush Pandey, executive chairperson and national creative director, O&M India.

The TVC shows Muralitharan on the field, where he suddenly forgets everything in thoughts of the taste of the Zinger Burger that he had consumed before coming for the match.

This is the first time that KFC has roped in a celebrity for television advertising. "It's a known fact that two things work well in Indian advertising - Bollywood and cricket. We thought of using the latter because no one in this category has adopted this route."

Varma clarifies that Muralitharan's association with the brand is limited to just this commercial. "Muralitharan is not playing brand ambassador for KFC," he says.

The company is also planning to increase its advertising and marketing budget marginally. It had allotted a budget of Rs 5 crore for 2008, but later revised it to Rs 6 crore.

In April this year, KFC released a commercial to promote its chicken bucket.

KFC flagged off its Indian operations in 1997. It released its first ever commercial for India in 2007. Prior to that, it was only using print and on-ground activities to promote the brand.

O&M and MindShare won the brand's creative and media duties in 2007. Prior to that the business was being handled by DraftFCB Ulka (then FCB Ulka) and its media counterpart, Lodestar Universal. Draft+FCB+Ulka won the business in 2005, from JWT. Draft+FCB+Ulka was also responsible for putting in place the first ever commercial for the brand.

Although the communication is also targeted at the masses, Varma says that the emphasis is on the youth. KFC will be the official grub partner for the MTV Roadies show, which will be aired in January 2009.

KFC plans to use television mainly for its communication. As Varma explains, "Television offers the fastest buildup for the brand to convert awareness into trial. Brand awareness for KFC is comparatively lower than for other brands, so television as a medium of mass communication will help."

However, Varma doesn't rule out the option of using new media for the larger cities in the country. "The penetration of new media is highly concentrated in the top cities and the metros," he says.

Till last year, KFC had 26-27 stores. "We are looking at closing the year with 50 stores, and by the end of 2010, the target is to reach a figure of about 100," says Varma.

The branded quick service restaurant (QSR) category is estimated to be worth Rs 1,000-1,500 crore in India, out of which 50 per cent comprises coffee chains and 20-25 per cent, pizza parlours and their home delivery segments. Activities are restricted to the top eight-10 towns in the country. The competition for KFC, Varma reveals, are the regular eating joints.