When Advertising Goes Terribly Wrong

On November 9th of this year KFC Germany sent out a push message on its app stating, “Commemorate Kristallnacht – treat yourself to more soft cheese and crispy chicken. Now at KFCheese!” Kristallnacht (The Night of Broken Glass) commemorates the night in 1938 that Nazi gangs looted, vandalized, and destroyed synagogues, Jewish businesses and Jewish homes across the country.  It seems that computer-generated messages to encourage sales are linked to holidays and commemorations and that these are not vetted by human beings before they are sent out. KFC immediately offered apologies for the blunder. “We are very sorry; we will check our internal processes immediately so that this doesn’t happen again. Please excuse the error.”  [They did not apologize, however, for selling “soft cheese and crispy chicken” in the first place.]

The fact-checking team at Earth Muffins decided to see if any similar incidents had occurred in the U.S., and discovered several events:

January 17th 1983 – Remington Arms – “In honor of this first Martin Luther King Day we’re offering a discount on the purchase of a 30-06 caliber Remington Game-master slide action rifle, the same weapon that James Earl Ray used to assassinate King in 1968.”

February 2nd 1988 – Ace Hardware – “Once again, Punxsutawney Phil has seen his shadow and we can expect six more weeks of winter.  But if your property is being destroyed by groundhogs, come see our vast selection of poisons and lethal traps, on sale for one day only.”

March 27th 1990 – Jimmy Dean Foods – “To commemorate the start of the month-long celebration of Ramadan, we invite our Moslem friends to take advantage of our month-long sale on Jimmy Dean Pork Sausage Links, Pork Sausage Patties and Pork Sausage Rolls.”

April 15th 2001 – Home Depot – “This is a great time to stock up on building supplies.  We’ve got an enormous Easter sale going on.  You’ll find all of the items you’ll need for your construction project: two-by-fours, nails, and customizable signs featuring your favorite slogans, including ‘Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.’”

May 22nd 2010 – King Soopers – “What better way to celebrate Harvey Milk Day than with a cold, refreshing glass of milk?  In fact, we are featuring our full line of dairy products, including Ice Milk, in remembrance of the slain Gay Rights leader.  15% discount to all members of the LGBTQ community.  Show us your rainbow!”

June 24th 2022 – Bed, Bath and Beyond – “To celebrate the Dobbs decision, overturning Roe v. Wade, we are offering a special sale on coat hangers and knitting needles.  As we say at B, B & B, ‘Why go to a specialist when you can do it yourself?’”

Unlike their German counterpart, none of the companies issued apologies for their marketing schemes.  In fact, several executives at other firms are looking for similar ways to tie their products to holidays and commemorations.

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