Digital MarketingStrategiesGerman KFC Debuts Smart Fast Food Trays

German KFC Debuts Smart Fast Food Trays

Consumers can now text without getting their smartphones dirty, thanks to the Bluetooth-enabled trays KFC Germany premiered during the chain's new location openings.

A new ad campaign for KFC in Germany is centered on smart trays. When consumers connect them to their smartphones via Bluetooth, the thin-but-durable paper trays transform into rechargeable wireless keyboards.

To celebrate the opening of new locations, the fast food chain’s German branch spent the last week doling out the Tray Typers, which are meant to let people send text messages without dirtying their smartphone screens with greasy fingers. At restaurants where the trays were available, geolocated social interaction skyrocketed, according to KFC.

“When I first heard about [the campaign] I thought it was strange, but the more I thought about it, the more brilliant it seemed,” says Andrew Humeniuk, a Toronto digital marketing consultant. “How many people would you have to reach with a conventional marketing message to have the cumulative impact of one person sitting there typing, ‘Guess where I am, guess what I’m doing?'”

Much like Domino’s new emoji-based ordering system, Humeniuk thinks people were excited by the novelty of the smart tray, making them more likely to talk about the brand. The nature of the tray, which illustrates the growing connectivity of the digital world, makes it easier to do so. In addition, the technology’s cool factor makes it seem less gimmicky.

“People aren’t going to talk about your product, so you have to have them talk about that cool, different thing you have,” Humeniuk says. “People love technology, people love little gadgets. I haven’t been in KFC in years, and I would go just to see [the tray.]”

Meanwhile, in the U.S., KFC just reintroduced Colonel Sanders, who hasn’t been featured in the brand’s ads for about 20 years. Twitter comments about the new colonel, played by Saturday Night Live alum Darrell Hammond, are far less divisive than those about McDonald’s new Hamburglar.

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