KFC Fries funeral

How can brands play with controversy in risk-averse times?

In a consumer landscape that favours virtue, with audiences that will call out bad behaviour at the drop of a hat, courting controversy is a risky move. But brands can still use it to their advantage

Recent research from Alfred and Sensu Insight suggests an increasing number of brands and businesses feel pressure to present a positive public image and fear backlash and scrutiny. Almost two thirds (62%) of PR and marketing professionals questioned said they felt brands are expected to be perfect and never make mistakes.

And yet, some brands do it anyway and embrace the backlash. Take Oatly. Following the ban of its advertising campaign, ‘It’s Like Milk But Made for Humans’ in Ireland and Northern Ireland, Oatly launched Feck-Oatly.com, a site showcasing decisions made by the company that have caused the most controversy.

Oatly isn’t the first and it won’t be the last brand to lean into bad press as part of a deliberate campaign. Last year, KFC Canada bade a satirical farewell to its bland fries with a funeral procession, in order to welcome in its new seasoned fries. For those who could not make the in-person service, the brand held an online funeral with a eulogy.

Feck Oatly website
From Feck-Oatly.com, a website from Oatly that responded to its ads being banned in Ireland and Northern Ireland