A horrifying KFC Germany push notification last week encouraged consumers to “treat [themselves]” to its new chicken sandwich to mark the anniversary of Kristallnacht, a day considered by many to be the beginning of the Holocaust.

The KFC promotion read, “It’s memorial day for [Kristallnacht]! Treat yourself with more tender cheese on your crispy chicken. Now at KFCheese!”

On November 19, 1938, violent anti-Jewish demonstrations occurred across Germany, Austria and parts of Czechoslovakia. The pogroms, which Nazis called Kristallnacht, “was a turning point in the history of the Third Reich,” according to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum website

For reasons I hope I don’t need to explain, social media immediately reacted.

Dalia Grinfeld, the associate director of European affairs at the Jewish NGO Anti-Defamation League, tweeted: "How wrong can you get on Kristallnacht KFC Germany. Shame on you!"

For whatever it’s worth, KFC Germany quickly realized the error of the notification, blaming the initial alert to a “semi-automated content creation process” linked to a calendar of national holidays and observances. Use of the calendar is suspended while the fast casual chain reviews the process.

“In this instance, our internal review process was not properly followed, resulting in a non-approved notification being shared,” a spokesman for KFC Germany said. “We understand and respect the gravity and history of this day, and remain committed to equity, inclusion and belonging for all.”

Social media moments can make or break a brand

Social media is crucial to attracting and retaining consumers these days, but a bad message can quickly go wrong. For example, Wingstop caused an online uproar earlier this year when it tweeted out one single four letter word, followed by the explanation “our 12 new chicken sandwiches are so good, they're SOLD OUT."

At the 2022 Chicken Marketing Summit, Danette Amstein, co-founder and managing principal, Midan Marketing, discussed the importance of social media moments in reaching consumers and keeping chicken as the protein at the center of the plate.

“Some of us love it and others hate it. But let’s be real, it needs to be part of our strategy. Because that’s where they’re spending time,” she said.

I’m pretty certain this wasn’t part of the strategy though.

Attend the 2023 Chicken Marketing Summit

The 2023 Chicken Marketing Summit will be held at Hotel Effie Sandestin in Miramar Beach, Florida on Monday, July 31 – Wednesday, August 2, 2023. Serving a unique cross section of the chicken supply chain, Chicken Marketing Summit explores issues and trends in food marketing and consumer chicken consumption patterns and purchasing behavior.

For more information and to attend, visit: www.wattglobalmedia.com/chickenmarketingsummit/.