Photo via the Consumerist
Perhaps you've seen the harrowing images of this food-like thing haunting the blogosphere. Perhaps it has haunted your dreams. It was way back in August when news of this beast of a food product (and I hesitate to call it even that) first surfaced. If the mere concept played like a bad joke then--a bacon sandwich where the bun is made out of fried chicken--then the effect was only heightened when KFC chose April 1st as the day to announce its fried Frankenstein-wich was indeed becoming a reality. Yes, the Double Down is real, unfortunately--but more disturbing than the idea that people are actually going to eat this thing is the logic employed to sell it to the American public . . . And that logic is: if healthier food is now pop culture's conventional wisdom--local, organic, farm-fresh, etc are the talk of the town--and sure, people are becoming better educated about nutrition and their food choices (sometimes with the help of the law), well then, screw it. Let's show up to the cocktail party in a gorilla costume.
In other words, the campaign that KFC itself is using to sell the Double Down amounts to nothing more than "this thing is crazy gross looking." So crazy, and so gross, that no blog or media outlet could bear letting it pass by without expressing an opinion of some kind. Of course KFC knows the thing is nasty, and of course the company knows every health expert, blogger, and opinionator will cringe at the sight of it. But that ensures we'll be talking about it.
As BNet notes:
Simply put, KFC needs excitement and the Double Down is sure to deliver. After all, the strategy of flipping the middle finger at the nutrition police certainly worked well for the Monster Thickburger, which got Hardee's more free publicity than it knew what to do with (most memorably, Michael Jacobson of CSPI called it "food porn"). Sales soared.The outrageousness is the Double Down's best and only selling point. Even fried chicken lovers will think twice about eating this thing. And yet, BNet is skeptical it will pay off:
Unfortunately for KFC though, there's one big difference between the Thickburger and the Double Down -- Hardee's creation closely resembles a recognizable food product. The Double Down resembles something your kid might come up with if left alone with a fridge full of leftovers. Beyond the novelty, it's hard to see how customers are going to flock to this one.But what BNet overlooks here, I think, is that whether people flock to order this particular food-thing doesn't matter. It raises KFC's profile as a place that bucks common values--somewhere where you can head if you're tired of caring about what you eat, and ingest the biggest, most fattening item imaginable, surrounded by peers who are in on the "joke." Obviously, these guys don't care what's in their food:
It's a marketing campaign that capitalizes on our worst impulse--the impulse to say 'Screw it.' It's a good thing that this sort of viral-marketing-by-flouting-the-general-good tends to only be successful occasionally and in niches like fast food menu items--I'd hate to see the something like the Hummer revived with similar logic.
Finally, I'll leave you with this, the precursor to the Double Down that has an eerie resemblence: Tracy Jordan's Meat Machine.