KFC’s CMO Dishes on How Its Mario Lopez-Led, ‘Authentic’ Lifetime Mini-Movie Came Together

2 months ago 23

The first question that popped into your mind when you heard of KFC teaming up with with Mario Lopez for a Lifetime “mini-movie” may have reasonably been: How do you achieve 10% body fat on a diet of fried chicken?

While the answer to this unlikely plot twist will remain elusive, the chicken chain’s U.S. CMO Andrea Zahumensky did provide the proverbial secret recipe to Adweek on how the unlikely pairing came to be.

Earlier this week, the fast food chain made waves across the internet when a poster surfaced, featuring Lopez staring as KFC founder Colonel Harland Sanders to promote the 15 minute-long short film titled A Recipe for Seduction.

The show will debut on the network this Sunday, Dec. 13, at noon, with a plot that follows a young heiress who falls in love with the chef who has just arrived at her family’s estate and has developed a secret recipe for—you guessed it—fried chicken. Tension ensues with a villainous mother who has other plans for her daughter. Viewers will have to tune in on Sunday to see how it ends.

The buzzy project was over a year in the making: It was 18 months ago that KFC’s media agency of record Wieden + Kennedy Portland first pitched the idea for a “first-of-its-kind mini-movie concept that had never been done before,” said Zahumensky.

“At KFC, when we begin our creative process, we think about how our brand can show up in interesting and unexpected ways in popular culture,” she said.

Since Lifetime is known for bringing joy through its holiday movies and content, and KFC is known for bringing people together over a meal, the two made an ideal match.

“During a year unlike any other, we wanted to celebrate the holiday season and bring some much-needed distraction from 2020 in a way that only KFC and Lifetime could do,” Zahumensky said.

The agency’s plan was to insert the chain’s iconic founder into a piece of custom-branded content that would serve as entertainment, she said. The team then approached Lifetime, an existing partner of KFC, with the programming opportunity. Given the network’s history of working with brands to match them with content, such as furniture seller Wayfair, it “jumped at the chance to create a fun and authentic piece to join the It’s a Wonderful Lifetime holiday movie lineup,” Zahumensky explained.

If the film feels like any other Lifetime original, that’s because the network “took the charge on casting, writing, and producing the first-of-its-kind 15-minute mini-movie,” Zahumensky said. In fact, Lifetime and Wieden + Kennedy collaborated to create a script chock full of all the mystery, suspense, deception and, yes, ‘fowl’ play you’d expect of a piece of Lifetime programming, but centered around love, and of course, fried chicken.

Zahumensky said that in addition to its agency of record, A+E Networks and Jean’s Sister Productions were also involved in bringing the episode to life. Lopez’s history with the network made him a natural choice to star.

“When people see Mario Lopez on screen, their eyes light up,” she said. “Mario is a Lifetime legend, and we knew he would be the perfect person to play Colonel Sanders in A Recipe for Seduction.”

There’s a restaurant angle to the partnership, too: KFC is partnering with Uber Easts to bring fans a meal to eat while enjoying the movie with a special promotion from Dec. 13 to Dec. 19, giving six free extra crispy tenders for food delivery orders of $20 or more on KFC via UberEats.com or the mobile app.

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