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KFC’s The Colonel directs Waze users to nearby restaurants

KFC is targeting younger consumers by teaming up with navigational application Waze to lend the voice of brand mascot Colonel Harland Sanders, who will provide turn-by-turn GPS directions and point out nearby restaurants.

From now through August 16, users of the Waze app may opt in to use The Colonel’s familiar voice for navigation directions by visiting the app settings and altering voice language. KFC is following in the foot steps of brands such as Domino’s by using a mascot to communicate with consumers and provide convenience while driving.

“We are bringing back The Colonel’s voice which we think will be relevant with younger customers,” said Stephanie Mattingly, director of media and field marketing at KFC, Louisville, KY. “His story is amazing – he failed at a lot of different jobs before becoming the greatest chicken salesman in the world at the age of 65.

“And his innovation – frying a chicken his secret recipe in a pressure cooker which was crazy dangerous at the time – allowed him to craft the best-tasting chicken in the world for millions,” she said. “So why not bring this feisty and pragmatic showman’s voice back… literally.

“We think it’s fun and we sure hope the fans think it’s fun too.”

Branded GPS tactics
The cross-partnership with Waze will likely add a bit of humor into consumers’ days, as The Colonel’s voice offers directions as well as statements such as “Pothole on the road ahead. I’d fill it with gravy.”

While users can feel assured that The Colonel will guide them to their final destination of choice, the ambassador will also point out KFC restaurants along the route. This tactic may prove fruitful if hungry users receive the inspiration to stop for a bucket of chicken tenders, especially if they were not familiar with the food marketer previously.

“By adding the Colonel’s voice to navigation instructions, KFC has the opportunity to push its brand messaging, establish consumer trust and increase awareness of surrounding KFCs,” said Melissa Greenberg, general manager of mobile advertising agency Fetch, New York. “Acting as bridge, the partnership with Waze allows KFC to reach a market they might not have otherwise.

“Navigation voiceover commands are essential to listen to while driving, so we can expect Wazers will have willfully opted in to whatever commands KFC’s Colonel gives,” she said. “Having drivers’ full attention, the KFC brand and messaging will be disseminated and received in an ideal environment.

“An app like Waze has earned and established its users trust by providing smart navigational directions.”

Brands such as Wells Fargo and Dunkin’ Donuts are discovering that users of Waze are more likely to drive to a retail location after seeing associated Pins or Takeovers (see story).

While the experience must be completely authentic to resonate with consumers, food and beverage marketers with recognizable mascots may do well teaming up with navigation apps such as Waze to offer users a branded yet helpful driving experience.

Voice-enabled apps
Voice-enabled apps are on the rise, and a slew of brands are taking advantage of them in a bid to indirectly talk to their customers.

In February this year, Domino’s Pizza’s virtual ordering assistant Dom, which lets consumers dictate orders via mobile devices while on-the-go, reached a half-million orders since its 2014 launch, suggesting more food brands should consider investing in voice ordering technology (see story).

If KFC were to offer its fans the ability to “speak” to The Colonel via a mobile app and place an order for delivery or for pick-up, it could potentially see sales rise considerably.

The brand currently does offer Australian consumers the ability to place an order via mobile, thanks to its KFC Xpress app. Fans can pre-pay with their credit cards and skip the cashier line once in-store.

While mobile ordering certainly is an imperative tactic for any food marketer to leverage, going the extra step and adding voice ordering technology could make a significant difference to consumers.

“Our hope is that the Waze community enjoys the fun and irreverence of Colonel Sanders accompanying their journeys this summer,” KFC’s Ms. Mattingly said. “The Colonel has always been at the core of everything we do and the 75th anniversary of Original Recipe is the perfect time to give him back to the people in unexpected ways and remind everyone of what we’re all about.”

Final Take
Alex Samuely is an editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York