Brand Blogging

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Life imitates art for Yum! brands

This SNL Digital Short was originally a parody of the race to the bottom that Taco Bell is having with itself regarding how many different combinations of ingredients they can fit in a tortilla. This includes menu items such as the tortilla-within-a-tortilla Double-Decker Taco and the Grilled Stuft Burrito—"A large, warm, soft, flour tortilla wrapped around seasoned ground beef, hearty beans, seasoned rice, a blend of three cheeses - cheddar, pepper jack and mozzarella, creamy pepper jack sauce and fiesta salsa, then grilled to perfection"; shades of both items can be seen in the above Digital Short.

Well, now KFC—related to Taco Bell via Yum! Brands, the Pepsi spin-off company that also includes Pizza Hut—is offering its "Famous Bowls," which include mashed potatoes, corn, gravy, cheese, and chicken, all mixed together in the same bowl. The commercial shows a man walking up to the counter at KFC and asking for mashed potatoes, corn, and chicken all in the same bowl, to which his server replies, "should I top it off with gravy and a three-cheese blend?"

To me, there seems to be a distinct air of desperation in all of this; the Famous Bowl is something that, given an extra ingredient or three, could be its own parody commercial. It's almost as if they're trying too hard. And, in fact, KFC is somewhat desperate:
For years, KFC has tried to increase lunchtime sales. Various sandwiches and wraps are still on the menu, including the 99-cent Snacker sandwich, which has boosted sales.
But the brand's chicken and side items, dinnertime staples, haven't done as well at lunch.
"We know our products are better for lunch when they're portable," said Scott Bergren, KFC executive vice president for marketing, in a statement.
The bowls, priced at $3.99, have broad appeal and are targeted at "heavy fast-food users," said James O'Reilly, KFC vice president of national marketing.

Let me translate this from marketing-speak into English: the Famous Bowls (I don't get why they're famous if they're brand new) are designed specifically for people who hate the hassle of having to sit down and eat the main ingredients separately. Therefore, in order to make it easier for them to shovel everything into their mouths all at once while they ride their Segway or whatever, they just put it all together in one bowl. The result of this food agglomeration is below:

Of course, there is the standard disclaimer that the real thing will look nothing like the picture that they use for marketing purposes. I'm not sure if gravy and cheese is something that people will go for, although given the potatoes/gravy/cheese combo, there is a resemblance to the Quebec dish poutine:

That's fries, cheese curds, and gravy. Which, by the way, is delicous. However, none of this solves the desperation (or at least awkwardness) inherent in the Famous Bowls. At least the Taco Bell analog, the Border Bowl—filled with seasoned rice, beans, chicken or steak, lettuce, cheese (also a three-cheese blend) tortilla strips, salsa, and "Zesty dressing"—more or less replicates the contents of your average burrito supreme. (Although I should point out that there is no single item on the menu containing rice, beans, and meat—only combinations of rice and beans, beans and meat, or meat and rice. The tensile strength of a tortilla probably wouldn't allow for all three.) Taco Bell and KFC's cousin Pizza Hut is perhaps best suited to offering multiple-food items because pizzas were made to be topped. For example, their Meat Lover's pizza contains—in addition to the standard bread, sauce, and cheese—pepperoni, sausauge, ham, bacon, beef, and pork. It may sound extreme, but with a name like Meat Lover's, you want to make sure you have all your bases covered. Hell, here in Manhattan you can get a slice of pizza topped with lasagna, which is essentially one full meal topped with another. The Famous Bowls, on the other hand, seems like they're one step away from throwing all the ingredients into a blender and making a chicken cheesy mashed potato gravy corn shake.

But I think I should stop now. I don't want to give them any ideas.

Related link: Yum! promises growth (of your waistline)


Blogger N. Undated said...

Cheese, fries, and gravy? That's Disco Fries at Michael's in Astoria, man!

Complete hell for a hangover.

8:14 PM  
Blogger Rexx said...

Not just cheese - cheese curds.

12:01 PM  

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