KFC wanted a hip, exciting ad for its Go Cups snack line when it partnered with a famous parkour team.
Instead, the fast food chain removed the video from its campaign, and the team told its angry fans it was manipulated into participating in an advertisement for a brazenly unhealthy product.
The agency Draftfcb created the #HowDoYouKFC campaign to promote the relatively new Go Cups line with shareable videos demonstrating the snack’s portability. Some are meant to be relatable (like this one with friends in a car) and some are just for fun (like this one with a streetballer).
One of the online ads in the latter category featured members of the Tempest Freerunning Academy, an elite parkour team based in California and known throughout the world. It was posted in late December and removed in early January after causing a bit of a scandal in the parkour community.
In the video, two athletes flip and run with Go Cups in their hands, snacking in between moves. Freerunners around the world were generally unhappy with the endorsement, and took to social media to let the team know.
Draftfcb, representing KFC, removed the video from YouTube after just several days. Tempest told its fans that the team demanded the ad be removed not because of the backlash, but because it felt it was tricked into having test footage become marketing.
Brian Orosco, a Team Tempest member and manager, told Business Insider in an email:
When the production approached us, they presented the concept to us as a pre-vis [previsualization — used to conceptualize an idea], not a full-fledged advertisement. Because we work very hard at the Academy to promote healthy living, we were surprised to see it publicly posted on their channel. First, because we felt misled when the material was repurposed without our permission, and second, because we don’t want Team Tempest or the Tempest Academy to glorify unhealthy eating.
Draftfcb denies any deception was involved. An agency spokesperson told us that:
All the proper clearances were obtained prior to the video being posted. However, the club owner subsequently asked that the video not be used and in the interest of being good partners, we were happy to accommodate that request.
We saw the video when it was still online. Tempest members Luci Romberg and Dan Mast performed various moves while holding Go Cups and eating fried chicken and potato wedges after landing tricks. A dubstep soundtrack played throughout.
Parkour fans lambasted the video after it surfaced.
And though Tempest Academy is in Los Angeles, a large number of freerunners from Glasgow, Scotland took offence. For example:
Our students who enjoy watching TeamTempest, we would like to say that you WILL NOT become athletes by eating KFC. They set a poor example.
— Glasgow Parkour (@GlasgowParkour) January 6, 2014
The Glasgow parkour community’s KFC banter has been utterly hilarious.
— Jonny Reed (@jonnyreed) January 7, 2014
Tempest posted a statement to Facebook on Jan. 6 after Draftfcb took the video down (it is a less direct version of the statement the team sent us). It currently has 136 “likes,” but some fans were not satisfied and gave passionate responses:
Draftfcb is happy with how the rest of the #HowDoYouKFC campaign has been going. Even other ads with athletes have been successful, like this one featuring motocross star Bryan Hudson. It’s got almost half a million views and a largely positive response:
And here’s a video of the Tempest Freerunning Academy freerunning through downtown LA, in case you wanted a better idea of they do:
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