There may be 73,208 seats in the Mercedes Benz Superdome, the New Orleans stadium that will host this year’s Super Bowl XLVII, but for those 50 million or more fans who watch big sports games from the comfort of their own sofa KFC’s NFL Playoffs campaign has introduced a new term ‘Couchgating’.
Launched for this year’s Playoffs and for the Super Bowl itself, ‘Couchgating is the fast food brand’s new campaign that combines the live football spectators’ pre-game, at-stadium tradition of ‘tailgating’ with the at-home sports fans couch-watching experience.
The marketing initiative from KFC, and agency DraftFCB/Chicago, sees the fried chicken giant style itself the ‘Official Sponsor Of Couchgating’.
Of course, describing oneself as the official sponsor of a made-up word is a classic ambush tactic.
KFC’s couchgating campaign runs across multiple media platforms, with social media channels to the forefront – including humour-led YouTube videos that introduce the ‘rules of couchgating’ and, of course, explains exactly why a key component of genuine couchgating is KFC’s new ‘Gameday Bucket’.
The brand’s Facebook page also highlights some of the main couchgating guidelines (eg ‘if you touch the wing, you eat the wing’), as well as tips for maximising enjoying from couchgating games (eg ‘shouting at the television set usually makes your team do better’).
KFC is also facilitating peer-to-peer couchgating discussion through the #couchgating hashtag and driving discussion by featuring the best tweets and Facebook posts in a special “Excellence in Couchgating” section at the Facebook site.
Of course, there is also the traditional sports marketing event sweepstakes with two grand prize winners not getting Super Bowl tickets but rather receiving an ultimate makeover of their living rooms into ‘couchgating central’.
Further elements of the campaign include teaming up with digital sports magazine ThePostGame.com to connect with couchgaters across the USA through the creation of a “Masters of Couchgating” video and editorial program.
ThePostGame.com is establishing itself at the intersection of sports and lifestyle, so, according to Eric Herd, vice president of sales and development at ThePostGame.com, ‘It was only natural that we team up with KFC to school people on the finer points of ‘couchgating’.
KFC may be one of the first brands to ambush the NFL’s Big Game, but it certainly wont be the last.
KFC launched its new Gameday Bucket (eight pieces of chicken, eight hot wings, and 10 Original Recipe Bites for $19.99) and the associated Couchgating campaign just days before the start of the NFL Playoffs and one week before College Football’s end of season Discover BCS National Championship Game.
Good timing and, from KFC’s perspective, leveraging traction from the sport makes a lot of sense – especially considering that in recent seasons the NFL has been attracting record numbers of TV viewers and with limited tickets and seats at the Super Bowl and at the Playoff games themselves this campaign targets the mass TV audience in their natural environment seems to make some sense.
But how and whether the NFL reacts remains to be seen. After all, the league was known to be unhappy with KFC’s stunt-style attempt to ambush the 2007 Superbowl in 2007 when it offered a $260,000 charitable donation in the name of any player that would simulate ‘wing flapping’ during a Super Bowl XLII touchdown celebration.
Following this stunt, in 2008 KFC, part of Yum! Brands, actually signed up as the official NFL Playoffs and Superbowl’s ‘official wing partner’ in a media heavy deal led by TV work and point-of-sale support, plus 32-ounce cups with NFL logos and Super Bowl ticket/trip giveaways via a sweeps overlay.
Buy while KFC pours NFL super-sponsor Pepsi’s products, it is not an official fast food restaurant sponsor of the NFL. The main category post used to belong to Burger King between 2005 and 2007 (and before that McDonald’s up until 1998), with the current closest official sponsor being the NFL’s official pizza brand Papa Johns.
Couchgating TV Ad YouTube: