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KFC Red Encouragement

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Since the Beijing Olympics in 2008 first put the spotlight on China, the sporting event has a special place in the hearts of Chinese citizens. Every Olympics is a month long festival in China with media and buzz around the event enduring throughout. 

Unfortunately, KFC was not an official sponsor, but McDonald's was. So KFC needed to find an alternative way. 

However it could see that uniquely for this specific Olympics, Chinese people were appearing much more relaxed and cared less about only winning medals than in previous years. On social media, people were cheering and encouraging for all the Olympians alike, whether they’ve won or lost. This is a trend that has become quite evident throughout the country, as Chinese of all walks of life adapt to China’s somewhat slower pace of growth. It is becoming less about winning at all costs, and more about recognition of effort.  

Tapping into this need for recognition of effort – of daily encouragement – provided an emotional bond Mindshare could tap into, but it would have to find the right platform.  

First, it identified the colour red, which for thousands of years, in China is the colour of life, courage, and luck.  

Second, drums have traditionally been a sign of encouragement – both on battlegrounds and sports events alike. 

Finally, KFC’s bucket was not only red, but when turned upside down, it looked like a traditional Chinese drum. 

Mindshare had found the perfect platform for KFC.  


The strategy was simple: dial up the connection of KFC’s red bucket and encouragement. 

But in a month where all the media and social focus were on the Olympics, creating an association like this was highly unlikely. It means you need to compete with every brand’s Olympic media budget, and also the non-stop news on the Olympics. 

What's equally powerful as sports, and cheers people up, gets people emotional and also an integrated part of any sports event? 


And while there are many platforms for music, it believed that similar as sports, music is best experienced live. 

So the agency created KFC #redencouragement and partnered with one of the biggest music festivals – Echo Music Festival. 

It wanted to create an experience to engage the hardcore music fans to be the advocate for the brand, and give encouragement to Olympians and people alike. 


Before the event, Mindshare worked with one of the top artists in China – Tan Weiwei and produced a song called Red Encouragement. The tune of the song was based on traditional Chinese folk music Huayin, a style considered the oldest Chinese rock music. In the music video, Tan and a band of drummers used KFC buckets as drums and performed a drum dance. All buckets were adorned with traditional good luck elements like auspicious clouds, dragons, and cranes. 

It pre-seeded the video through China’s biggest internet media platform Tencent, and Tan herself promoted the song on her own social media platform. 

At the Echo Music Festival, it built a #redencouragement themed pavilion. 

Consumers could play a mega, electric version of the bucket drum and generate encouragement e-beats. After they played the drum, they could snap a photo of their score and share on Weibo (Twitter equivalent). 

Meanwhile on mobile, an HTML game featuring the bucket drums was promoted so those who couldn’t go to the event could also show their encouragement. 

Around the event, a ‘K squad’ gave out five different K-emoji stickers (including a drum playing KFC Colonel!). Consumers hunted the ‘K squad’ around the venue, collecting all the emoji stickers. After all stickers were collected, they could mail out a postcard with the stickers and send them to family and friends to encourage them as well. 

tattoo artist drew personalised “encouragement” patterns on people to make sure everyone had something meaningful they could share on social media. 


50,000 attended Echo Music Festival and 70% of them stopped by and experience the #redencouragement pavilion. 

Tan’s #redencouragement music video was played 762 million times in total, a performance on par with non-branded A-list music videos. 

The event ignited social platforms. #redencouragement was viewed 490 million times, with 560,000 people engaged in the discussion. Compared to the official Olympics sponsor McDonald, whose Olympics topic #cannotdowithoutyou had only 140 million views and 62,000 engagements. (Source: Weibo) KFC's buzz was nine times more than the official sponsor! 

The net positive image of KFC increased 8% after the event.

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Brand Owner:
August - August 2016
Media Channel:
  • FMAs shortlisted

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