Posted by: nickgerlich | March 26, 2008

The Grill Next Door

It is often hard to undo something, once you have been doing it for many years and everyone knows you for it. It’s like driving a manual transmission and forgetting to engage the clutch before trying to shift gears. The result is usually a lot of noise and hesitation.

It would be like Coca Cola deciding they really wanted to sell beer, General Motors making bikes, or the Pope converting to Judaism.

Or KFC giving equal billing to grilled chicken.

Glimpse BackThat’s right. The Colonel must be rolling in his grave at the recent announcement from the fast-food bastion of greasiness. Lest we forget, the F in KFC stands for Fried. And the K stands for Kentucky, thereby rendering their chicken “Southern fried.” As in bad for you.

To their credit, KFC is trying to fix what is now a horrible marketing stigma. Fried is out, and Kentucky isn’t exactly cool (with apologies to my family members and friends who live there). So KFC is going to start offering grilled fare right alongside their menu mainstays. Why, they’re even going to have an electric sign in the window proclaiming “Now Grilling.”

Last year KFC switched to trans-fat-free oils. While this is a move in the right direction, it does not imply they are using heart-healthy olive oil in those deep fryers. The new grilled items are a major effort to reposition the firm in a market that has become increasingly health-conscious.

But another part of me says it is often difficult and dangerous to reposition, even if you are losing traction. People already have an idea firmly planted in their minds, especially in the case of KFC. And it’s not like KFC hasn’t tried this before (albeit on a smaller scale).

And failed.

Maybe in a twisted kind of way, KFC (or is it now KGC?) should just stick to its original business plan. Want to live dangerously? Tired of all the healthy do-gooders laying guilt trips on you? Don’t mind if you one day need gall bladder surgery? Then come on down to KFC and eat chicken the way God intended it to be cooked.

I’m not convinced that the New-and-Improved KFC is any better, for you, or me, or them. All the grilling in the world isn’t going to make this chicken fly.

Dr “Thanks But No Thanks” Gerlich

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