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By Amy Houston, Senior Reporter

June 14, 2024 | 8 min read

After a week of subliminal billboards, the chicken franchise has released its latest ad spot, a dark and humorous commentary on the chaos of life. Here, ad agency Mother shares the backstory.

“Welcome to the news at 11, where we’ll be talking to the minister for artificial intelligence about accusations that he’s not real.”

That’s the opening line of KFC’s new ad, which the fast food chain has been building up to all week. Its creative agency, Mother, opted for a dark, humorous take on current affairs, such as the rise of AI and people’s disdain for politics. The result is an engaging short film with real Stranger Things vibes.

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Mother’s executive creative director, Martin Rose, only started working on the account this year, after “years of Fomo,” and admits to some nervousness about matching what has gone before. “This is our biggest chapter since the partnership with KFC began,” he explains. “It’s the biggest thing we’ve done or changed, if you will.”

He says that the quality of work the brand has put out over the years has seen it build up a dedicated fanbase, but there have been a few challenges along the way. Engaging Gen Z has been a huge one. The other is competitors.

“I don’t really look at other chicken shops as a competitor, I kind of look at the other big players, like McDonald’s and Burger King, trying to be chicken. But there was always the really obvious thing that KFC has been there forever. The original recipe, the best version of it, so it’s regaining that status.”

With this approach, the creative team developed a campaign slogan that read “Believe in Chicken,” while keeping today’s culture front of mind. With so much going on in people’s lives, the brand wanted to comment on it in a “fun, silly and provocative” way.

“When you can’t really believe in much else right now – for example VAR, football or AI – one thing you can believe in is a night in with fried chicken from KFC.”

The campaign was launched in a phased approach. Yesterday, unbranded posters popped up across the UK with cryptic messages and stark black and red typography. There were also ad vans drawing attention to various sites that people have lost faith in, plus a huge 260ft chicken under the flight path at Gatwick airport and in-pub guerrilla activity for football fans having a drink. It was all about building intrigue before today’s campaign film was released.


When the plan was coming together, the brand had no idea there would be a general election, but Rose says it is not about taking sides and rather about poking a bit of fun at the madness of it all.

“It is testament to the KFC team, to be honest. I’ve not seen many brands that are willing to put no branding on something that you're spending big, media money on.

“We launched it in Manchester at RGM Fest, the big franchisee event. We had the ‘Believe’ branding around and, honestly, it went absolutely crazy on Reddit. People were like, ‘What is this? A Cher tour?’"

The spot has a cult-like atmosphere centered around the chicken, which is prominently featured. This is a bold choice, as fast food ads typically avoid showing animals.

It was directed by Vedran Rupic and mixes a hypnotic beat, drama and choreography, but always builds tension. The collective movement of everyone featured draws from the hero chicken’s hypnotic head bob and staggering forward strides, culminating in everyone joining the circle to ‘Believe in Chicken.’

Rose says that when the Mother team would go down to meet the KFC team in Woking to show the work, the energy was always high. “They are imbued with the idea of believing in what they sell. And I kind of love that about it. When you say a cult, it’s almost like a fan group; they kind of are themselves.”

It’s a whole new “bold art direction” for the brand, which was all about simplification. You’ll notice in the ad there is no mention on ‘Finger Lickin’ or the Colonel.

“Firstly, it was about getting back to standing out in the category, and secondly, it was about youthfulness and appealing to a younger audience,” says Rose of the direction. “And that came from the photography style, including people in it”


Typically, with fast food ads, you’ll see a lot of in-store shots and close-ups of the food, but Rose says that’s not where KFC’s audience enjoys food, with it being just as popular at home, in the car or on an AstroTurf pitch.

“We want to show the real grittiness of the world where you eat KFC and not be precious about the way it looks because it already looks amazing. And then there’s the clear messaging; we’re not trying to come up with any crazy new lines.”

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While ‘Finger Lickin’ Good’ isn’t going anywhere and will always exist, he says this is a “reinvention, a platform” for the brand.

Ultimately, the brand wants to entertain its audience and that’s what it did with the short film. “Stranger Things is a perfect example. It isn’t 28 Days Later dark. It’s not apocalyptic. It’s dark in a fun, lighthearted, entertaining way. The end result is still fun, the music’s great, pop-y. I think that’s ultimately what it’s about – not taking ourselves too seriously.”

KFC’s marketing director, Kate Wall, adds that it is a standout moment for the brand. “When we read the script, we were like, ‘Wow.’ We had never heard or seen anything like that before. So, we kind of instantly fell in love with the boldness of it.

“We believe wholeheartedly in chicken. It’s our core obsession; always has been and always will be. This campaign is pushing the importance of this as our number one belief and celebrating this in an irreverently witty way.”

After today’s launch, the film will be shown on TV, cinema, BVOD, online video and social platforms.

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