KFC recently announced the “Watt A Box.” It’s a box that, in addition to holding your fried chicken, allows you to plug in your phone for a quick charge. It’s only available in India (sigh) but it’s making a statement that’ll be heard around the world: fast food has gone completely insane…again.
Form factor has played an increasingly important role in the development of fast food novelties recently. This usually amounts to the combination of two or more food items into some delicious abomination (we’re looking at you, Mac n’ Cheetos) but KFC’s move here is tantamount to breaking the fourth wall. They’re making explicit statements about their customers that have implications beyond what they eat.
Smartphone ownership in developing nations is very much on the rise, but tapping out sweet nothings on a late-model iPhone like the heroine of this ad is still a pretty significant status symbol in the Indian market. KFC is clearly playing the “Be Somebody” card here, and with no apologies.
But there’s a bigger card being played that we’re seeing at every turn. KFC, along with many other companies who’ve built their brand on doing one thing right, has adopted a new definition of what that “one thing” is: spectacle.
Drawing connections between consumer interests is nothing new in the marketing playbook, but hybridizing products to this degree is just downright entertaining. What other reason could there be for Converse, who has built one of the most widely recognized apparel brands of all time on a single product, to create a version of their hallowed shoe that doubles as a guitar effects pedal.
In the wake of this insanity, let’s take a moment to reflect on the past – a simpler time when fast food packaging innovations were focused on deliciousness above all, a time when we sang in harmony on the streets of Smalltown USA, a time when Jason Alexander still (apparently) had hair and all was well with the world…