KFC seeks new CRM agency as Iris declines to repitch

kfc chicken town2KFC has kicked off a review of its CRM account and is hunting for a new agency after Iris ruled out repitching, despite what the brand’s chief marketing officer described as a “strong partnership”.

The process is being run through the AAR and is still at an early stage, but is expected to be finalised in April.

Iris was first appointed to the digital and CRM account in 2017, following a competitive pitch process involving three other agencies. The move resulted in the agency ending its five-year relationship with Domino’s.

Over the past three years, Iris has worked across KFC’s delivery and click-and-collect business, as well as the brand’s loyalty scheme, The Colonel’s Club.

It has also worked closely with Mother, which also landed the KFC advertising account in 2017, bringing an end to a 15-year relationship with Bartle Bogle Hegarty. Mindshare beat off Zenith to win the KFC media account in 2019.

It is not known why Iris has chosen not to repitch, although these decisions are nearly always financial. Even so, chief executive Chris Marlow has been quoted as saying he was “proud of the positive commercial impact we’ve had on their business”.

However, Iris will no doubt be eyeing up a new and more lucrative slice of work in the burgeoning fast-food category, which despite being forced to close during the first lockdown has seen in-store takeaways, deliveries and click-and-collect orders soar across the UK.

The Covid-19 outbreak initially caught KFC with its trousers down, after it was forced to pull the plug in its “Finger Lickin’ Good” ad campaign – which featured customers licking their fingers – over concerns about the spread of the virus. It had to replace the ad with the “Chicken Town” campaign (pictured).

However, it did manage to redeem itself with a post-lockdown tongue-in-cheek spot which marked the reopening of its UK stores by highlighting fans’ homemade attempts at fried chicken.

The campaign used real images of customers’ culinary efforts – some better than others – during lockdown, accompanied by Celine Dion’s All By Myself. At the end, KFC reassures viewers: “We’ll take it from here.”

In a statement, KFC chief marketing officer Meghan Farren said: “We have a strong partnership with Iris, which is testament to the significant contribution they’ve made to our business over the last few years. However, with so much change within the CRM environment and our category, we believe now is the right time to review the relationship to help us determine the right partner going forward.”

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