The KFC menu is about to get a boost from an unusual celebrity (and an even more unusual sandwich).
Fast-food collaborations with celebrities are certainly nothing new — they’ve been around for exactly 30 years, in fact.
Michael Jordan was the face of the first one back in 1992, when the McJordan Special debuted at McDonald’s (MCD) – Get McDonald’s Corporation Report, causing a hubbub over a simple Quarter Pounder with bacon and McJordan-branded barbeque sauce.
But fast-food companies watched the way folks reacted to Jordan’s face touting a meal, and they saw money to be made.
Today, this tactic remains successful. South Korean superstars BTS partnered with McDonald’s (MCD) – Get McDonald’s Corporation Report in May 2021 for the worldwide launch of the BTS Meal. That helped send sales at The Golden Arches U.S. restaurants up 26% for the second quarter — and that’s just in one country.
Obviously, the bigger the star, the bigger the potential success of the collaboration.
But not every brand can afford that move. Others prefer to focus on Gen Z and the TikTok crowd with collabs like Dunkin’s pair-up with Charli D’Amelio or Popeyes’ (YUM) – Get Yum! Brands Inc. Report hot sauce with Megan Thee Stallion.
These deals don’t just drive visitors to buy; the chains get free marketing boosts as customers share and talk about them on social media. That was something you couldn’t do, and a marketing freebie the companies couldn’t get, back in the McJordan Special days.
Yum Brands’ Kentucky Fried Chicken recently wrapped a similar collaboration with Grammy-nominated rapper Jack Harlow.
And now, it’s launching a new one with some intense-looking new sandwiches, accompanied by a friend of Hello Kitty.
KFC’s Latest Collaboration
On Aug. 24 KFC sent out a tweet on its KFC Japan account with an image of two stout new sandwiches.
On the left, what looks like a fried patty is topped by a fluffy egg with a runny yolk, lettuce, and a sauce that looks to be mayo.
The one on the right is similarly dressed but trades the not-quite-identifiably fried patty for KFC’s signature fried chicken.
Both sandwiches are slated for an August 31 release date; no price or other details are mentioned beyond that.
In the middle of the two sandwiches, a silhouette is shown with the trademark Sanrio Co. (SNROF) . The tweet asks followers to guess what the image might be.
But anyone who has visited a Hot Topic in the past few years may already recognize the character: an egg named Gudetama, who has been embraced worldwide for unabashed laziness (and who happens to come from the very same cutesy family as Hello Kitty).
A collaboration with Gudetama might be considered a deep cut in the U.S. for those less than familiar with Sanrio’s empire. But the character is adored in the Japanese market. Perhaps Sanrio could use a boost, too, as it was hit hard during the pandemic. Its revenue has yet to recover (it was down a little more than 25% in 2021).
Maybe a fried-chicken sandwich promoted by a sad little egg who looks as if it’s too tired to exist is not only highly relatable post-pandemic, but is also the perfect way to help Sanrio recover..