KFC says sorry for making utensils obsolete plus...9 more campaigns that use apologies to humorous and dramatic effect.

KFC says sorry for making utensils obsolete plus...9 more campaigns that use apologies to humorous and dramatic effect.

When you're a big corporation, sorry can genuinely be the hardest word. It can also - in the right hands - be one of the funniest and most impactful ways to earn attention. Firmly in the latter camp, this recent effort by KFC Canada is a great example of apologising from a position of strength.  Given its world-famous tagline, it's just a miracle they didn't apologise sooner...

Apologies Utensils | KFC Canada | Courage | 2023

When your tagline is 'Finger-Lickin' Good that doesn't leave much room for those poor utensils.  To temper the blow of making them obsolete, this spot uses the iconic strains of Air Supply’s “All Out of Love” to give forks, knives, and sporks a long overdue apology.

Apologize The Rainbow | Skittles | DDB Chicago

Skittles faced outrage when it replaced its lime flavor with green apple in 2013. To address the grievances of its lime-loving fans, the brand launched an 'apology tour' that included a Twitch activation and a partnership with Nascar driver Kyle Busch. After receiving over 130,000 complaints on social media, the brand reconsidered and reintroduced lime Skittles in September 2021. Skittles' senior brand manager, Fernando Rodrigues, acknowledged the popularity of lime, stating that it was the "most-asked-about flavor." As part of the apology tour, Skittles released a tongue-in-cheek ad, "Apologize the Rainbow," featuring a sharply-dressed executive apologizing for the brand's decision. The ad was livestreamed on Twitch and TikTok on March 29, 2022.

Apology | Domino's | It's Friday

Domino's and It's Friday have partnered to tackle the issue of customers struggling to keep track of deals on paper vouchers, emails, and texts. The pizza giant has developed a new innovation to help customers save, store, and redeem deals with ease. To tease the announcement of this new product, a humorous apology video was released featuring Domino's CEO, Don Meij, acknowledging the overwhelming number of deals the company has put out in the last year. The campaign aims to remind customers of Domino's unbeatable value and reassure them that they will soon be able to get those deals without the hassle. According to Vince Lagana, Chief Creative Officer of It's Friday, the teaser campaign is a fun way to recognize that it's nearly impossible to keep track of all their deals and to make sure people know they'll soon be able to get those deals without the ordeal.

FCK | KFC |Mother

When KFC restaurants in the United Kingdom experienced a significant shortage of chicken, it was forced to close more than half of its 900 British locations closing. This led to customers venting their frustration on social media and even attempting to involve the police. In response, KFC adopted a cheeky creative approach and rearranged its name to spell “FCK” in a full-page print ad in The Sun and Metro. The ad, created by agency of record Mother London, apologized for the inconvenience and acknowledged that a chicken restaurant without chicken is not ideal. This apology took social media by storm in a positive way and the campaign not only demonstrated KFC's commitment to transparency and customer satisfaction, it racked up a ton of awards too.

Holiday Spam | Three Mobile | Wieden + Kennedy

At the time of the campaign, Three Mobile was the smallest of the UK's main mobile networks and it faced the challenge of attracting customers beyond just offering low prices. To differentiate itself, Three tackled the issue of data roaming charges when using phones abroad, which was a major source of consumer frustration. The network abolished roaming charges and launched a humorous campaign featuring tongue-in-cheek apologies for the increase in "bragging" photos sent by Three users from abroad. The campaign proved successful, with research showing that Three was viewed as more customer-friendly and appealing. By the end of 2014, Three had achieved an all-time high of 10.4 million UK customers and 13.3% market share.

Chief Apology Officer | Qualtrics | TBWA

Too often leaders spend too much time apologizing for bad experiences that could easily be fixed or prevented by simply listening and then doing something with the information. In this campaign, Martin Jones is a self-confessed empathy evangelist who thinks saying sorry will revolutionize the way people do business. With this campaign, Qualtrics is showing broken experiences don’t have to stay well… broken. By using simple feedback resources, like the Qualtrics XM Platform, companies can gain the insights they need to find and fix experience gaps –– the difference between what businesses believe is happening and what is actually happening. Learn more

No apologies. Period.

Despite the growing acceptance of body positivity and sex positivity, a recent study by Midol revealed that a majority of menstruators under the age of 40 have apologized for their periods, and the numbers are even higher among younger demographics. To break this cycle of over-apologizing for menstruation and its associated symptoms, Midol launched this campaign to encourage menstruators to embrace their periods and stop feeling ashamed. The campaign features a diverse group of real menstruators sharing their experiences, and aims to contribute to the larger conversation surrounding period and body positivity. By promoting awareness and acceptance of menstruation, Midol hopes to connect with its audience in an authentic way and foster a more positive dialogue around menstruation and the female body.

Unlimited Apologies | Entel | McCann

Entel, a wireless provider, wanted to launch a promotion that permits its prepaid users to make unlimited calls regardless of carrier. To demonstrate this benefit, McCann made a popular soccer player call an entire country to apologize for a goal he missed in an unexpected manner in the last minute of play that would have qualified Peru for the World Cup 2006. This campaign, aside from positioning the brand as the only one to offer unlimited calls regardless of carrier, became a media and cultural sensation.

And finally...

A campaign where the last thing wanted is an apology.

Anything But Sorry | Canadian Down Syndrome Society | FCB

No one who has just had a baby ever wants to hear the word ‘sorry’. In this powerful and funny advert, it cleverly shows just why you should never apologise to someone who has a baby with Down Syndrome. The ad, using actors with Down syndrome, shows you that they’re not victims, they shouldn’t be apologised for. The campaign cleverly juxtaposes a ton of inappropriate things that most people would hopefully never think to say to a woman, with the simple word ‘sorry’. By having the words straight from the mouth of people who have possibly had this said to them, it hits home how inappropriate saying ‘sorry’ to someone who has a baby with Down’s Syndrome is. It’s impossible not to engage with the advert and take real learnings away from it.