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For when I need more than 140 characters to finish a thought on marketing, media or message.


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KFC Famous Bowls: America’s failure pile with bacon!

ED’S NOTE: The commentary here reflects my interest in advertising as a marketing student. No products, services or agencies are endorsed. The opinions expressed here are mine and in no way reflect the opinions of my employers.

UPDATE 12-06-2011: The original ad was pulled, but I found a version that intersplices commentary from Jim Gaffagin. “Yay, bacon!”

Is it possible that the failure pile in the sadness bowl could get even sadder?

One of the most bewildering fast-food marketing successes, the KFC Famous Bowl, has added BACON to the mound of mashed potatoes, gravy, chicken bits, corn and cheese, and behold! The KFC Cheesy Bacon Bowl.
 

Everything is better with bacon.

~ “Rachel,”
KFC employee

 

 

KFC (NASDAQ: YUM) introduced the Famous Bowls, its take on Shepherd’s Pie, in 2006. It became the most memorable product launched that year. Not long after, comic and writer Patton Oswalt seized on the absurdity of the dish, dubbing it a “failure pile in a sadness bowl.” Oswalt’s side-splittingly funny stand-up bit went viral, giving the bowls more publicity than KFC could have hoped for. (Warning: Oswalt’s clip is pee-in-your-pants funny, but he uses strong language. Put the headphones on if you’re at work or if the kids are still awake.)
 

 
It seems KFC is good natured about Oswalt’s hilariously devastating commentary on its best-selling product; the Colonel’s social media team even went so far as to engage the comedian on Twitter as the Cheesy Bacon Bowl launched.
 

 
Nicely played, Colonel.

At the time of this writing, the KFC ad, posted Oct. 14 on YouTube, had 33,648 views, 44 likes, 13 dislikes and 53 comments. UPDATE 12-06-2011: It has since been pulled.
 

I want to be an American. Does that mean I have to be fat first?
~ Adam,
YouTuber

 
Yes, Adam. I believe it’s in the naturalization laws.

About the KFC Channel
(As of Oct. 26, 2011)

  • Channel Views: 135,159
  • Total Upload Views: 1,275,294
  • Joined: March 27, 2007
  • Subscribers: 1,099

 

* * * * * * * *

 

RELATED: Patton Oswalt on the worst Christmas song ever

 


Even better at Eventide

We recently celebrated a birthday at Eventide in Arlington, Va., a popular fine dining restaurant in the Clarendon area that is known for its fabulous rooftop experience. It was a bit cold for April, so this time we dined in the main dining room, which has to be one of the best designed in Northern Virginia. And I’m not just talking about decor: Our party of four was comfortably seated at a table that was not a mere 4 inches from another table. The impossibly crowded dining rooms that seem characteristic of Northern Virginia’s better restaurants have long been a complaint of mine, so it’s nice to dine with my chosen company and not complete strangers.

Our meal was good, no complaints — I had the forest mushroom and ricotta tortellini with green lentils and black truffle butter sauce — but I think I’ve more enjoyed our meals in the bar. I can’t tell you why exactly; maybe it’s because my palate is only slightly more sophisticated than a 7-year-old’s. Though perhaps it’s because I enjoy small bites of a lot of flavors, and the lounge menu certainly offers that. The truffle French fries and soft pretzels are our favorites, and the pulled-bison barbecue sliders are must-tastes.

For the more serious diners, the main menu is changed seasonally. Most recently, the features included the aforementioned tortellini, Scottish salmon with fiddlehead ferns and sweet peas, and a beef tenderloin with carmelized fingerling potatoes, asparagus and a sherry brown butter emulsion.

On the Web: eventiderestaurant.com

Where in the World: 3165 Wilson Boulevard
Arlington, VA 22201-4420

Phone: 703.276.3165

Diners Advisory: Reservations are not accepted for the roof.

Hours (Bar): Tuesday-Saturday: Opens at 5 p.m.
Hours (Main Dining Room): Tuesday-Saturday: 5:30 p.m.-9:30 p.m.

Eventide on Yelp

Eventide on foursquare

Eventide on Gowalla

Eventide on Twitter

On Google Maps:
 


Bon Chon: Also finger-lickin’ good

ED’S NOTE: A guest post from my better half. Originally posted at A Few Things Considered.

By Trey Barrineau

I’ve had a long love affair with fried chicken (I am a Southern boy, after all), and I’ve savored it at places that are considered legendary (Price’s Chicken Coop in Charlotte, among many others). But I may have discovered a place that puts them to shame: Bon Chon Chicken in Fairfax City.

This might — might — be the best fried chicken I’ve ever tasted. Bon Chon is a popular South Korean restaurant chain that specializes in KFC — Korean fried chicken. The Korean style of frying up yardbird is a two-step process, according to this article from The New York Times. The result is sublimely crunchy. In fact, it’s the most perfect crunch I’ve ever experienced from fried chicken. The only downside to this process: be prepared to wait a while for your food.

Bon Chon Chicken in Fairfax

On Yelp

On foursquare

On Gowalla

The chicken comes with two sauces — soy garlic or spicy soy garlic. I opted for the spicy, which had a wonderful kick, but was not overpowering. And unlike a lot of American wing places, the sauce is applied gently and is not messy. The side dishes and appetizers looked interesting, but I didn’t try any on my first visit.

If you live in Fairfax, you’ve got to try this place. Now.

On the Web: Bonchon.com

Where in the World: 3242 Old Pickett Road
Fairfax, VA 22031
(See website for other locations)

Phone: 703.865.5688 703.865.5689

Hours: Sunday, Monday: 4 p.m.-10 p.m.
Tuesday-Thursday: 11 a.m.-11 p.m.
Friday-Saturday: 11 a.m.-12 a.m.


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Checking in at Bon Chon Chicken

My better half has reviewed a place that he says “might — might — be the best fried chicken” he has ever tasted. It’s Bon Chon Chicken in Fairfax City, a popular South Korean restaurant chain that specializes in KFC — Korean fried chicken. If you want to know more about the food, check out his review, which will leave your mouth watering.

I have not experienced this chicken of all chickens, but — as the marketing student who never seems to sleep — I am interested in the store’s efforts at social media promotion.

Still fairly new in the neighborhood, Bon Chon’s Fairfax store is getting a little bit of play on foursquare (13 check-ins) and Gowalla (five check-ins). On Yelp, however, a 35 customers have offered comments, most of which are favorable. (The word “addictive” is used a lot.) The Fairfax store is also on Twitter (@bonchonfairfax) and Facebook. Curious to see what its Facebook fans have to say, I tried the FB page listed on the menu — facebook.com/BonChon-FFX — but I didn’t find it until I went to their Twitter feed and found it here. (The path listed on the menu doesn’t point to Facebook’s Pages.) Despite the confusion over the Facebook Page, I easily found their Facebook Places page, which has only four check-ins. That’s not to say there’s no “conversation” about Bon Chon, though: On my husband’s page, the mere mention quickly sparked seven comments and four “likes.”

Take that, Colonel Sanders.


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More on foursquare vs. Facebook

Emma Barnett of the UK’s Telegraph talks to foursquare chief Dennis Crowley about the location-based network’s 7-month-old rivalry with Facebook’s Places. Crowleys says Facebook’s no threat to foursquare, which saw a 3400% growth in 2010.

Crowley tells The Telegraph:

We offer a fundamentally different tool to Facebook Places. Facebook is very good at offering its users tools for sharing things online. We are good at facilitating activities offline, once a person has shared their location online. Our primary aim to get people outside and doing more stuff.

I’ll buy that. But I wonder, if Facebook isn’t a threat to foursquare, what about Google?

EARLIER: A Business Insider graph looks at foursquare’s growth.

A foursquare post claims 7.5 million users now, and as Business Insider points out, that’s more than double their number of users when Facebook’s Places launched in August.

What location-based platform are you using?


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Coyote Grille & Cantina: Got chips?

This will be the first post I do that has negative comments about the restaurant I’m going to review. After a couple of not-so-great visits, I had been postponing a review of Coyote Grille and Cantina until I could figure out if I had anything good to say about it, and if I did, what was it?

It’s not as if I don’t like this place. I do. I would go so far as to say that we patronize this place a lot. And in view of this, I believe that as a regular customer who has spent her hard-earned discretionary income at an establishment, I’m allowed to write honestly about a business that hasn’t fully met my expectations as a consumer.

So I’ll start with the bad news.

Service has been inconsistent over the past year: One server seemed to completely forget us, bringing our food late and forgetting our drinks — all of which led to us missing a movie. Another time we arrived well before closing and were told the kitchen was closed. (If you’re closed, lock the door.) On a happier note, during a more recent visit, we received excellent service from a young woman who seemed to be waiting on ALL the tables. She made great customer service look effortless, and I could tell the diners appreciated her hard work.

Scrolling through the reviews on Yelp, I see I’m not alone in some of my observations. Like several reviewers, I believe the drinks are terrific. I highly recommend the Lime and the Coconut margarita or the Blue Moon margarita. One reviewer suggested it as a drinks-and-apps place, and I’ll agree with that. As far as the food goes, I don’t find their Tex-Mex to be all that innovative, but it is nice and they do have some affordable lunch deals. If you take advantage of those popular lunch deals, be ready to get up close and personal with the other patrons. Like many Northern Virginia restaurants, the interior is a bit cramped, and it’s baffling to me why large groups (8+ parties) seem to think such a small restaurant would be a great gathering spot. The outdoor patio is better for bigger parties, but in an effort to keep it open year round, they’ve installed heat lamps that can roast you.

As I said, I do like this place, so we’ll return to Coyote Grille again and again. I just hope at some point there’s an internal push for improved customer service.

Where: 10266 Main Street
Fairfax, VA 22030

Phone: 703.591.0060

Hours: 11 a.m.(Close not listed)
Sunday brunch: 11 a.m.-2 p.m.

On Google Maps:

 

 

On Yelp: Here

On Gowalla: Here

On foursquare: Here


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A regional gem: Hard Times Cafe

Affordable food. Friendly service. And cold beer.

What’s not to love?

We’ve enjoyed Hard Times Cafe since 2001: When we worked in Rosslyn, we used to stop at the one in Clarendon after work, then years later the Fairfax store opened around the corner from our then-new neighborhood, and that made for a nice welcome.

Often after a busy Saturday of errands and yard work, we’ll stop in for wings and chili. Our faves: the chili lime boneless wings and the Terlingua Red chili. Also not to be missed: the vegetarian chili, which is truly masterful. (Have a nut allergy? Take a pass on this chili. It has peanuts.)

Don’t live in Arlington? Not in Fairfax? Don’t worry, Hard Times Cafe has 16 locations in the D.C. metro area. You can find them here.

In Fairfax
Where: 4069 Chain Bridge Road
Fairfax, VA 22030

Phone: 703.267.9520

E-mail: fairfax@hardtimes.com

Hours: 11 a.m. until 1 a.m.
Sports Cue closes at 2 a.m.

On Google Maps:

On Yelp: Here

On Gowalla: Here

On foursquare: Here