WTF Fun Fact 13543 – KFC Slogan Lost in Translation

KFC prides itself on its famous slogan, “It’s finger-lickin’ good.” The line captures the essence of KFC’s promise: irresistibly tasty chicken that might compel diners to lick their fingers, savoring every drop of flavor.

Well, that didn’t exactly translate well when KFC expanded into China in the 1980s.

A Finger-Lickin’ Faux Pas

Successfully entering a new market involves more than just setting up shops; it’s about making sure the brand’s message resonates with the local populace.

In the 1980s, KFC translated its iconic slogan into Mandarin to appeal to the Chinese market. But this attempt resulted in a phrase that sounded less than delicious.

“Finger-lickin’ good” became something more like “Eat your fingers off.”

So instead of imagining the delightful experience of enjoying KFC’s chicken, Chinese customers encountered an oddly gruesome suggestion.

The KFC Slogan Gets Lost in Translation

Effective translation isn’t a straightforward task. It requires deep knowledge of local idioms, expressions, and cultural subtleties.

Mandarin, with its intricate tones and nuances, can entirely shift the meaning of phrases. Furthermore, the richness of Chinese culture, steeped in symbols and metaphors, means brands must navigate carefully.

Of course, upon recognizing the error, KFC immediately set things right. The company collaborated with local experts to refine its brand message for the Chinese audience.

Beyond just a slogan correction, KFC began to delve into Chinese culinary preferences, introducing menu items such as congee, Beijing Duck wraps, and spicy Sichuan chicken.

It kind of sounds like something they should have done to begin with…right?

Getting It Right

KFC’s initial hiccup in China highlights the crucial importance of cultural sensitivity for international businesses. While the “Eat your fingers off” incident brings chuckles now, it could have tarnished KFC’s image among Chinese customers permanently.

However, today, KFC has thousands of outlets across China and enjoys a reputation as one of the country’s top fast-food chains. Its dedication to understanding Chinese tastes and culture played a significant role in this achievement.

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Source: “The Hilarious Translation Mistake KFC China Made With Its Slogan” — Mashed

WTF Fun Fact 13490 – KFC Pothole Repair

Do you remember the Great KFC Pothole Debate of 2009? We don’t either, but it was certainly a marketing maneuver that involved thinking outside the box—or bucket.

KFC’s Pothole Repair Program

Imagine cruising down a street, and instead of dodging pesky potholes, you spot the logo of Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) imprinted on a freshly filled pothole. You’re not dreaming! In 2009, the fast-food giant embarked on an ambitious, unconventional, and public-spirited marketing campaign – “KFC Refreshes the Nation’s Roads.”

Amidst the crumbling infrastructure of many US cities, KFC saw an opportunity. The company proposed that KFC would pay for pothole repair, but the filled potholes would bear the KFC logo and a tagline “Re-Freshed by KFC.”

Their first stop was their hometown, Louisville, Kentucky, where the company fixed more than 350 potholes.

Pothole-Free Roads, Courtesy of KFC

Louisville was happy to accept the deal and became the first city with branded former potholes. (Though we’re not sure how the repairs jobs held up over time.) The potholes were marked with non-permanent, chalky white logos, which were designed to wash away with the next rain.

Some lauded KFC’s program as an innovative way to deal with the lack of funding for infrastructure maintenance. Others saw it as a controversial form of corporate branding. Especially PETA.

Regardless of the differing opinions, KFC’s pothole repair program was a testament to the power of creative, public-serving marketing. It enabled KFC to communicate their brand message while addressing a pressing problem plaguing cities across America.

The KFC pothole repair program provides an intriguing example of how private companies can support public services. But it also raises questions about the extent to which businesses should be involved in maintaining public infrastructure.

Beyond Louisville

After the successful run in Louisville, KFC extended the program to four more cities in different states. Of course, other cities turned them down. In the end, the initiative allowed KFC to portray itself as a responsible corporate citizen. They were hope this would attract more customers and foster customer loyalty. No word on how that worked out.

KFC’s pothole repair program may not have been the typical corporate social responsibility initiative, but it undeniably left its mark (quite literally!) on city streets. A few years later, Domino’s Pizza did the same thing.

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Source: “KFC Goes on Offensive Over Potholes” — Infrastructurist