Occasions like the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee are a prime opportunity for brands to lean into popular culture and increase share of voice. While many marketers rely on clever and tactical comms, KFC flexed all four marketing Ps to drive impact, says Ritchie Mehta, CEO at School of Marketing.

It was a truly historic moment. 70 years in Britain’s most high-profile job, was certainly worth all the celebrations it received. Whether you are a royalist or not, I’m sure you would agree that we all couldn’t help but get into high spirits as we rolled out the red carpet for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee weekend earlier this summer.

And as we turned ‘eyes right’ during the flypast, it would have been impossible not to have noticed the many brands out in full swing to make sure they didn’t miss a drum beat of the action.

They surely would not waste an opportunity to hoist their flag and give a royal salute to mark the occasion. After all, these are moments we live for, it’s classic marketing; be part of the popular conversation, have a (hopefully, novel) voice to increase your share of voice.

But to see this event, or any like it (if you’re thinking ahead), as merely an opportunity to play with brand cues, engage in a bit of humorous social posting or indulge in free promotions, is to really miss the point. In a twist to the Winston Churchill quote, I say ‘never waste a good occasion’ to turn tactics to transformative marketing.

Amidst all the noise, in this nationwide bash, one brand really stood out to me, the upper crust so to speak, in seizing the moment. And that is none other than… (trumpets please)… the king of chicken, KFC.

Now, perhaps an unusual choice but bite beneath the surface and you will uncover a strategic plan to be proud of as a marketer. Let me explain.

Like many a tale of triumph, the story starts long before the strategy is ever revealed. For years now, the fast food industry has been fighting against a new kind of competitor; the premium semi-fast casual dining segment. With its ‘healthier’ claims, enhanced in-dining experience mixed with the same levels of convenience, it has been giving traditional fast food players a run for their money (and margin). Cut to the current day and add in rising food costs and inflation, and you can see why brands like KFC would be looking to follow suit and go premium.

Like all good plans, timing is everything and what better time to signal ‘premium’ than the Queen’s Jubilee. A master stroke that has been executed by KFC to the tee at the tea party of the century. Here are some of my key take-aways on how they used the marketing mix to make a lasting impact:

Product and pricing approach

What better way to launch a new product then in honour of Her Majesty? If it’s fit for the Queen, it’s fit for everybody else, I’d say. So on that high note, KFC introduced their new, limited edition premium offering: the Coronation Chicken Tower Burger, coming in at a whopping £6.99, if ordered on Deliveroo.

The price is important as it signals a move upwards; strategically wedged between their current positioning and others in semi-fast casual dining space such as Five Guys or Shake Shack, making it very appetising. So much so, it’s likely to have taken a bite out of the competition’s lunch on a seminal weekend for so many.

The next consideration is the product’s name, particularly the inclusion of the term ‘coronation’. For starters, it really zings ‘high-end’ whilst creating a clear link to the occasion. And, if you want people to feel good things about your brand and product, what better way than to ‘share’ a feel-good moment with them to build positive mental and taste associations.

Not to mention that it just so happens that the term has also had a huge uplift in search volumes around this time, giving the burger a little additional SEO sizzle.

Reinforced by selective distribution

To add to the air of exclusivity, they opted for a rather tasteful distribution approach. You see, the burger was only available in 11 outlets across the UK (at locations that were symbolic of the monarchy, no less) and for a very limited time. This plays into the principle of scarcity, whilst reinforcing their positioning and likely to have been quick and cost effective to implement!

The approach embodies a ‘test and learn’ methodology. Low risk compared to a national roll-out and a focus on effective delivery distribution where it’s easier to manage variability in demand. In addition, this method would have also allowed them to analyse real-time sales and preference data efficiently and at scale.

Bang for their buck

Finally, they announced this new arrival with great fanfare with a few lucky people winning a royal delivery fit for the Queen. This created real novelty value and a buzz to the entire campaign that will live on beyond the moment.

Intrigue and curiosity are key ingredients in interrupting and individual’s buying patterns and getting them to try something different. This whole campaign really oozed in subtle behavioural techniques aimed at getting their audience to consider trying this new offering quickly!

In a world where many marketers are relegated to relying on clever and tactical comms to make an impact, it was clear that KFC was able to accomplish so much more through its ability to influence the entire marketing mix.

Hats off for such a stellar performance. It was a real beacon of the power of our industry that shone bright alongside the Queen’s that have been dotted around this wonderful nation, in celebration of this momentous occasion.