IDEAS: The others Sanders story - MARKETING Magazine Asia

IDEAS: The others Sanders story

In Feb 2018, KFC UK ran out of chickens. The shortage was the result of ‘operational issues’ with their new delivery services provider.

Many stores put up their ‘We’re closed’ sign even earlier than usual. ‘Hangry’ diners wasted no time putting up their displeasure on social media.

Some even made police reports only to be told – presumably by constables trying not to roll their eyes – that the #KFCCrisis isn’t a police matter.

The shortage made news worldwide- thanks in part to a full-page print ad- which featured the colonel’s famous bucket with the brand name rearranged to spell ‘FCK’, and the headline ‘We’re sorry’.

When he saw the work, Keven Le, ECD of Reprise Malaysia, started thinking, “Hey, it’s ok to talk about brand ‘secrets’”, ie.  it’s ok to be transparent about operational issues that affect the public.

With March 8, International Women’s Day, around the corner, he wondered if their client, KFC Malaysia, would be open to doing similar work.

Never one to miss an opportunity, Ange (Angelina) Villanueva, KFC Malaysia’s Chief Marketing Officer, immediately said yes.


57% of people working for KFC Malaysia are women. “A diverse workforce is good for business,” said Merrill Pereyra, Chief Executive Officer – Restaurant Division of QSR Brands.

“Women are committed, they possess a unique flair and finesse. And it’s a fact that they play extraordinary roles for the business.”

Ange felt that the work should highlight the contributions of women in business and society.

Even before he knew what he was going to present, Kevin knew he had found an ally- somebody who would champion great ideas all the way.


Ads celebrating the contributions of women or highlighting gender equality issues are nothing new.

In 2017, Burger King China became Burger Queen for Women’s Day. And in Feb 2018, Johnnie Walker introduced Jane Walker, and featured the striding woman on special editions of the Black Label brand.

“It’s easy enough to pay lip service. Or court controversy for the sake of it. We didn’t want that. We wanted to take our campaign a step further.” said Kevin. “Together with the client, we developed a campaign with legs- literally.”

And so, a team from KFC went to Segambut and Cheras to provide support to single mothers. The ‘Add Hope’ campaign brought food, drinks and other essentials to needy families.

The team also unearthed and highlighted inspirational stories of KFC staff who, in spite of disabilities or personal struggles, have been successful in their own right.

Finally, on March 8, 2018, they told Malaysians about the 12th ingredient in the Colonel’s 11 secret herbs and spices.


“The story of Mrs Sanders is not an advertising gimmick,” said Kevin. “Not something we plucked out of thin air. Claudia Sanders was a real person, and part of KFC history.”

“Mrs Sanders helped shape the KFC we know and love today,” said Ange. “She mixed the secret blend of herbs and spices, she took orders at the restaurant. And she made sure customers got their chickens on time- by bringing the orders to the train station for delivery, sometimes late at night.”

Armed with this information, and rare photographs from the KFC archive, the team went to work.


A logo was created featuring Claudia Sanders instead of the colonel. The other Sanders story was expanded into digital, print and on-ground activation.

The temporary logo went up on online touchpoints.

Were people confused whether it was a new restaurant?

“Not at all,” said Kevin. “The campaign grained a lot traction online- with many positive reactions. I like to think women who came to the restaurant were pleasantly surprised and delighted.”

Somewhere along the way, somebody associated with Ellen DeGeneres show discovered the campaign and brought it to the producers’ attention.

Claudia Sanders was featured on show, introduced by none other than Ellen herself.

“We liked the work of course, but never expected it to go viral around the world,” said Kevin. “The idea received a lot of media attention but getting on the talk show was totally unexpected. It was only discovered by a friend of our illustrator, who caught it on TV in the UK.”

The Claudia Sanders story went from Kentucky to Kuala Lumpur to the film studios of California and back again to Kuala Lumpur.

At the 2018 Kancil Awards, an annual show celebrating Malaysian creativity, QSR Stores Sdn Bhd was named the Advertiser of the Year, while Reprise took home the Golden Kancil for their ‘The Other Sanders’ campaign.

Edward Ong is on a quest to discover and create Malaysia’s best ideas. He is an award-winning Writer and Creative Director, and can be found at

You can read more of Ed’s articles here: 

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