Sunday, July 18, 2004

Roasted chicken not a hot item for KFC

USA Today

LOUISVILLE - Question: Why did the KFC chicken cross the road? Answer: Unfortunately, to get roasted.

Less than three months after introducing a line of roasted chicken entrees, the CEO of KFC's parent company told industry analysts last week that the "Oven-Roasted" line has been a disappointment.

"We don't think we came out of the box in the roasted category with the best effort that we could have," said David Novak, chief executive of Yum Brands, based in Louisville.

So, even in these times of better-for-you eating, KFC will once again re-focus on its signature fried chicken items, he says. While it still will sell - at least temporarily - the roasted items, it won't spend much marketing money to squawk about them.

Industry experts are all but cackling.

"Would I consider going to Pizza Hut for a tuna sandwich?" poses Dennis Lombardi, senior vice president at Technomic, a restaurant consulting and research firm. "KFC stands for Kentucky Fried Chicken."

The very image of KFC makes John Lister, chairman of Lister Butler, a brand specialist, think of "a big tub of fried chicken." If KFC executives think they have the same latitude of a McDonald's or a Wendy's to broaden their menu, Lister says, "They're beating their heads against the wall."

Last month, KFC settled charges by the Federal Trade Commission that a TV campaign made false claims about the healthiness of its fried chicken. Under the settlement, KFC agreed to stop making unsubstantiated claims about its nutritional and health benefits.

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