KFC Oprah Free Chicken Coupon Follow Ups

This just in from the Joe Duck “you can call me a chicken but don’t call me late for dinner” department:

The numbers are in for the coupon fiasco promotion and it appears my estimate of downloaded number (10 million) was very  good.  However it looks like eventually the total redemption will be greater than I predicted.

At an eventual redemption rate of 8 million coupons, food costs of 20% and non-fixed costs of another 20% (all guesstimates by me), KFC will have spent  40% x 8 million meals x $4 meal =  $12.8 million

Oprah says 10.5 million coupons were downloaded and 4 million used so far:

“We would like to apologize to our customers who have been inconvenienced by the overwhelming response to our free Kentucky Grilled Chicken offer,” said Roger Eaton, president of KFC U.S. “The lines of customers wanting to redeem their coupons have been out the door and around the block, so we’re unable to redeem customer coupons at this time.”

Eaton appeared on Winfrey’s show Friday via Skype to sort out what she referred to as the “chicken caper.”

Winfrey acknowledged some of the issues surrounding the campaign, and called the download of 10.5 million coupons and giveaway of $42 million worth of free food from KFC “quite a hookup.”

Eaton said 4 million meals had been redeemed by using the coupons, with 6.5 million meals from rainchecks still needing to be distributed.

Winfrey said the reaction to the chicken coupon surpassed even her giveaway of cars to audience members a few years ago.

“I was really deeply moved, first of all, by all the people who sent thank you’s for the chicken,” Winfrey said. “You know, I actually got more thank you’s for the chickens than we did for the cars, which is so amazing.”

Note to Oprah (who I love, but who I think may need some math tutoring)  Of course you got more thank yous for the chicken. You gave away 10 million chicken dinners and a few hundred cars.      I didn’t get either   :  (

KFC Coupon from Oprah

Update:   Yes, the KFC Coupon story is growing in complexity, nuance, and good old KFC chicken tastiness.

OK, so this KFC Chicken post is partly an  examination of the rise of Oprah’s Online  Omnipresence, partly a helper for my fellow KFC chicken loving blog readers, and partly a search ranking experiment.   The KFC Coupon for free chicken, referenced on Oprah today, is here .   The KFC Coupon above is NOT linked to my words “KFC Coupon” because that would mess up the experiment!   The only problem is that the site appears to be totally overwhelmed with requests for this offer which is pretty generous:  Free two pieces and sides for up to four people.    Feed your family free on KFC!

You want to click here – probably later this evening – for the free KFC chicken coupons.   Print out four and take the family, but NOT GOOD on mother’s day and SHAME ON YOU for even contemplating that cheapskate option!

I’m torn between thinking this is a genius move to swing millions of people back into the KFC fold and thinking it’s an idiot move for costing KFC a fortune (as in a real fortune.  Let’s assume a coupon print level of 10 million and use level of 20%.  They are giving away 2 million meals that would normally run about $5.   At a food cost of 20% and other non-fixed costs of about 20% the product cost alone will run KFC 4 million.)  This  for an offer that will bring in almost no immediate revenues.    As a branding play I want to follow this closely because my working hypothesis has always been that brand advertising generally fails but the failures are covered up by the very clever (and often very attractive) marketing firm sales reps.    At the KFC level the metrics are probably internal and less biased though so this one will be fun to watch.

Of course the value of the social media  may wind up putting this campaign into the “positive ROI” territory as  thousands of bloggers and Twitter folks like me are sucked into the greasy (wait, I mean grilled) chicken action.   KFC will soon the top trending topic on Twitter.    Chickens all over America have a  lot to fear today.

I’m a fan of their chicken but haven’t eaten there in some time – probably because deli chicken at supermarkets keeps me happy when I go into a frenzy for a fried chix fix.

Oprah apparently likes the new KFC Grilled Chicken and on the show offered a coupon for a free meal to *every person in the world* via an online website.   This appears to have created what I predict may be the biggest online feeding frenzy of all time since printing out the coupons requires some software that is loaded during the process.  So far I’ve tried about 5 times and each time get error messages I assume are related to massive server loads.

Oprah’s newfound Twitter enthusiasm notwithstanding, I’m guessing that the demand for this failed to recognize that the coupon story would spread like wildfire online to people who don’t watch the show (I learned about it from a Twitter person).

Wow, the fried plot is thickening.  Some stores are not honoring some coupons? Baltimore  Chicken Coupon News

Gettysburg, PA Dobbin House

Dobbin House

Originally uploaded by JoeDuck.
Gettysburg PA.

Now this town really knows how to do tourism. Sure there are a lot of silly tours and silly shops (Battleground Fries?) but the town is clean, pretty, historically fascinating.

We had a great lunch at Dobbin House Tavern. Built in 1776. Underground Railroad slave hideaway in 1800’s. Candlelit tavern feel with waiters in period dress. Good Sandwiches and a great little history primer menu – I love those! Prices about the same as Dennys.

Our spotless $49 per night (coupon book rate) Days Inn with hot waffles for breakfast remains a trip highlight. One more night in New Jersey and I think the kids would have run away for good.

The National Historic Park has an excellent self guided auto tour (free) and had a superb introduction to the battleground and strategies of the 3 day Battle of Gettysburg on a very large map with little lights that you sit around in a small square amphitheatre. Well worth the $4 and one of the few things I remember from my last trip here about 32 years ago. They are getting rid of it to install new media and touchscreens in a fancy new visitor center next year. I almost felt guilty being a touchscreen guy because this was cheap, effective, educational, great technology.

[where: 17325]

Does offline advertising really work, or are you just stupid?

If advertising worked as well as is commonly thought, there would far fewer advertising salespeople. I’m not saying in all cases “advertising does not work”, rather in *almost all cases* image advertising is not as cost effective as online marketing, and in *many* cases I’d suggest that offline advertising has a negative ROI for the sector with which I’m most familiar – marketing travel destinations and tourism related businesses.

Yes, I can easily prove this. Just give me any offline advertising campaign set of “successful results”, using whatever measure you care to define as “successful results”, and I’ll show how you can duplicate the effect for 1/2 to 1/10th the cost online. I may even be willing to fund this “experiment” for a destination or travel business if I could blog the results here.
I think big ticket / big brand advertising may work because it scales well. ATT can do a national campaign, reach people at a low cost per impression. Since almost everybody above age 15 is a very strong potential ATT customer there are far fewer “wasted impressions” than, for example, with a national campaign for Oregon Travel where you are advertising to many who simply can’t afford to make the trip or are very unlikely travel candidates.

Obiviously promotion of a destination or a business is critical to success. However promotion of things is done in many ways direct and nuanced. I’m suggesting that image advertising is low on the list of important promotion forms. I eat at the best restaurant here in Talent – Avalon – because experience shows the food, service, and ambiance is consistently very nice. When travelling I like to ask locals for recommendations rather than read a bunch of advertisements, though best is to have internet available so you can surf around to find the best restaurant. (I don’t like surfing with my Treo but I think with the iPhone we’ll pass the tipping point with mobile browsing for travel stuff).

For destinations here in Oregon like Southern Oregon or the Oregon Coast I’d suggest, somewhat educatedly based on 10 years promoting travel here online, that websites are responsible for more than 50% of the “promotion related increases” in Oregon travel economic activity. I’d guess, also somewhat educatedly, that the largest share of travel related economic activity is best attributed to word of mouth and general life trends rather than free internet or advertising or direct promotion (e.g. people visiting relatives, attending events, or people retire and finally have the time to “drive the west coast”, etc, etc).
The advertising mythos is as pervasive as many others, and the more I study “image advertising” the more skeptical I become. With auctions becoming increasingly popular offline and online it’ll be very interesting to see how prices will shake out. If the markets are as efficient as they could theoretically be, we’ll soon have some great data sets for comparing values of offline and online ads.

Kirkland’s Shareware Coffeehouse. Order what you want, pay whatever you like.

This social and economic cafe experiment by a Seattle Googler is fascinating, especially because it’s actual appears to be working so far to generate enough to keep the business going.  There are no prices and people’s contributions are not monitored.   Thus even the normal social pressure you’d have with, for example, a church collection plate are largely absent here in the Kirkland Cafe.

I’m totally skeptical of this model as a scalable type of business, but it’s sure interesting.   Burning man sensibilities come to mind.

Las Vegas Lions, IMAX, and Chinois at Caesar’s

Almost time to find something to do tonight after the ASK reception winds up at 6pm.  Sometime during the trip I want to go to the Chinese place “Chinois” at the Forum Shops at Caesar’s Palace recommended by Zeke at About.com, arguably the best source for Las Vegas info anywhere. He says this might be the best place to eat in the whole city.

Last time here I missed the Lion habitat at MGM grand so I also want to head over there and then to LUXOR for an IMAX show. I’d thought I’d do a big show this time out but nothing looks worth the $50 – $100 price when there are tons of cheap and free attractions, as well as some of the best people watching in the world.