The review comes as KFC prepares to fill its vacant U.S. chief marketing officer role, which has been vacant since April, when Andrea Zahumensky left.
The review comes two years after W+K’s New York office won the massive McDonald’s U.S. creative account. The win put two competing fast food accounts in the same agency, surprising industry observers. W+K has said it was careful to put a firewall between the two accounts. Of late, W+K’s McDonald’s work—including its celebrity-filled “Famous Orders” campaign—has won praise.
Wieden+Kennedy Portland has been KFC’s U.S. creative agency since 2015, after the Yum Brands fast feeder moved from FCB. W+K added media duties in 2018.
The partnership led to a creative renaissance in the brand’s marketing, which largely centered on reinventing KFC’s founder and mascot Colonel Sanders in the form of multiple celebrities, including Darrell Hammond, Reba McEntire and Mario Lopez. The campaigns played with pop culture, spanning video games, romance novels, wrestling tournaments, merch and more. In 2018, KFC added its media account to W+K’s remit.
In June of this year, W+K parted ways with Eric Baldwin, who had been one of the creative leads on KFC. At the same time, the agency announced that it had hired Ana and Hermeti Balarin, the Brazilian husband-and-wife duo who steer creative at Mother London. The Balarins, set to come on board in October, made a big mark with their own KFC campaigns, such as the “FCK” apology ad following a local chicken shortage that led to multiple restaurant closures.
The agency today also announced that JP Petty, who had formerly served as head of social media at Wieden+Kennedy’s New York office, has stepped up into the role of executive creative director, joining the Balarins in Portland. Petty was credited for helping the agency make some of its most prominent brands part of the cultural conversation, with campaigns such as the McDonald’s Travis Scott “Famous Meals” campaign as well as a push to launch the Ford Bronco via digital and social in a pandemic-stricken world.
Also on Wednesday, Yum Brands announced that Sabir Sami is being promoted to CEO of the KFC division as of January 2022, with global responsibility for driving the chain’s brand strategy and performance. Sami is currently the KFC division’s chief operating officer and managing director of KFC Asia.
The KFC review was first reported by Adweek.
Read More: KFC looks for a new agency