KFC’s Snapchat frenzy

Here’s how KFC used a Snapchat game to get an edge over frozen beverage competitors.

This article originally appeared in The Generation Issue, our June/July issue of Marketing magazine.

Campaign: Freeze Frenzy

Client: KFC

Agency: Ogilvy Sydney

 

Background

MK0617 cover generationThe frozen carbonated drinks market is crowded, with market share dominated by popular quick-service restaurants (QSRs) and convenience outlets. Some competitors have had their frozen drinks in market for four to five years. There is also little product differentiation between competitors. Other than flavour, all products are basically identical, even down to price point, which typically sits at $1.

Until 2016, KFC had not entered this domain. Unlike its key competitors, KFC’s beverage alignment is with Pepsi. Most of its competitors offer Coca-Cola, arguably the preferred of the two cola brands in Australia. KFC did have a point of difference, which was its Mountain Dew offering.

In the summer of 2016, KFC wanted to launch its frozen carbonated drinks offering, called KFC Freeze, in order to further capture the young adults audience and drive incremental sales with its existing fried chicken lovers.

There are high levels of awareness from the target market – young adults – around the available products, particularly as communications are aggressive during the key selling period (summer). Slurpee is one of Australia’s most engaged Facebook pages, with its audience appreciating its brand for both its online presence and offline activity.

It’s worth also noting that all competitors have a similar communications strategy. They use a similar media mix and, overall, a similar visual style. Most competitors utilised TV, OOH (out of home) and social channels, including a strong presence on Snapchat. Advertising featured young adults enjoying the product in typically Australian settings (i.e. outdoors, at the beach) along with bright colours to represent the product range.

 

Objectives

With this launch, KFC wanted to create a point of difference for a product that was essentially late to market. To do this, we needed to communicate KFC Freeze in a new and interesting way – that was highly distinctive.

For its summer 2016 launch, KFC needed to maximise its limited budget, and utilise its four-month communications period to make a splash.

Our target audience loves what the brand does on social – despite this, interactions can be fleeting (averaging 10 seconds for video content), due to the nature of the channel. In order to make an impact at launch, we needed a creative avenue that significantly increased the amount of time spent with the brand and product.

 

Strategy

People love a frozen drink in summer, and they also love our fried chicken. From our test market, we knew that most of our Freeze sales occurred in conjunction with our delicious chicken.

This was our big opportunity. While our Freeze drinks may not have had a standalone point of difference, our chicken is certainly one of a kind. So, rather than focusing solely on flavour and price, like Slurpee and other QSRs, we were going to use our biggest asset, our delicious, one-of-a-kind chicken, to sell KFC Freeze.

We were going to position KFC Freeze as the perfect summer partner to our delicious fried chicken. KFC on its own is amazing, but it can be spectacular when you pair it with an icy cold Freeze.

Though we had our distinctive positioning of ‘Chicken’s Best Friend’ to reach the young adult audience, we knew it wasn’t enough to communicate in the same old channels.

If we were going to be truly distinctive, we had to be distinctive in our channels as well, particularly with this audience. According to Brookings, 84% of Millennials don’t trust traditional advertising. So while we knew some ATL (above the line) would play a role in reaching the masses, getting our Freezes into the hands of young adults would require a more subtle approach.

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Execution

At the centrepiece of our campaign was an Australian-first Snapchat execution. For the first time in Australia, a brand used the WebView ad unit to treat its audience to an in-app game experience that delivered an exclusive Snapchat filter to lucky players.

While the competition had used Snapchat to reach its target audience, to date, most competitors had only utilised the standard video ad unit, which doesn’t allow for interaction. The role of social for KFC is to build brand love through engagement, so all activity, including ad units, is built to provide some kind of entertainment for the audience.

The game we built, titled Freeze Frenzy, utilised the platform’s unique WebView ad unit functionality, enabling brands to embed in any microsite to the app’s interface. To access the game, Snapchat users saw a 10-second video ad that featured a call-to-action to play. Players could access Freeze Frenzy by swiping up on the video ad. Our target audience, users 14 to 24 years old saw the ad when browsing the Discover area of Snapchat, or in between User Stories. The clever thing about the Snapchat WebView ad is that users never have to leave the app to play the game.

Players assumed the role of a KFC staff member serving customers over the course of the day, represented by a 60-second shift. Customers would approach the counter and order a combination of menu items, one of which would always be a Freeze drink. The player had to correctly add the order to a KFC serving tray and tap on the customer to serve them. A correct order allowed the player to earn points, with the aim of earning as many points as possible within 60 seconds.

The difficulty level progressively increased over the course of the 60 seconds in order to maintain player engagement. This was achieved by varying the number of menu items ordered, and using silhouettes of menu items in order to test players’ memory skills as well.

This game style we leveraged was one with which the target audience was already familiar. Games such as Cooking Mama and Papa’s Burgeria had made the cooking and serving format popular.

We built two bonuses into the game: a ‘Freeze Bonus’ and an exclusive Snapchat filter as a reward for a high score. The Freeze Bonus was triggered when a customer ordered two Freeze drinks, with the power-up freezing the clock to allow for extra time to earn points. The animation of the Freeze Bonus was also an opportunity to prominently showcase the products.

The exclusive Snapchat filter was unlocked when a player achieved a high score, and was made available at the end of the game. The filter sat in the player’s carousel for an hour, during which they could overlay the filter on their snaps to share with friends. The Freeze drinks also featured prominently in the filter. The campaign was served to Snapchat users over the duration of three weeks, with a frequency cap to ensure maximum reach.

Alerts about the game were delivered to KFC customers in the target audience via an eDM and through the Xpress app via an in-app message, as a way to speak to the digitally savvy audience in a more sales-focused manner.

Results

The game delivered 3,260,798 impressions, with a unique reach of 1,400,500, and achieved an average swipe up rate of 8.19%, exceeding the benchmark of 3 to 5%. The standout result was from the Discover placement, which achieved an average swipe up rate of 14.43%.

Players spent 79.78 seconds on average engaging with the game. That’s nearly 80 seconds spent exclusively with the KFC brand.

The Snapchat filter was unlocked, 104,277 times, resulting in 251,370 views of the KFC Freeze product beyond the game. The filter achieved a conversion rate of 34.94%, more than triple the Snapchat benchmark of 10%.

During the week the game featured in KFC’s eDM and Xpress app, usage of the app increased by 52.3%. This led to a 24% uplift in sals via the app over the previous week.

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  • Mike Zeederberg

    Can you still call it a case study if there are no results shown? Or does it just become a promotion of the brand and agency?

    • nicheteam

      Well spotted Mike. Apologies, we’ve added that in.

      Thanks,
      -Ben, Marketing Mag

      • Mike Zeederberg

        Thanks for the update – much appreciated.

  • goodwroter

    Soooo… did they sell any more Freeze drinks? That part is notably absent from the results.

  • johndodds

    A 24% uplift in in-app sales. Forgive me for being doubtful whether that translates into a big number.