Yum Brands Inc. case – Rats in KFC / Taco Bell (Branding on You Tube : Ex # 3 Group # 1)

This incident happened during last week of Feb, 2007. Some locals shot a video at a KFC outlet in 331 6th Avenue in Greenwich Village, New York after the store was shut and the footage showed some big sized rats spread all across the outlet and the video hit Youtube and it spread like a wildfire. All reputed new networks including CNN covered the news and taking interviews of local people about the incident. All had one view. “They had been there many times and they’d never go again.” News spread all across the US. Because of this viral video and news, stocks of Yum Brands Inc. that owns the chains of KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut fall to at least 2% in a day. It also experienced a drastic fall in sales but the numbers were not disclosed. However, rather than fighting back with the issue, Yum Brands came up with a surprising press release accepting the mistakes from their end and didn’t look to fight back. They could have gone to increase their search engine advertising budget so that people looking for the news, could have got all positive news about them or even used their own site to present an alternative narrative.

Here’s the actual press release from the KFC/Taco Bell

“Nothing is more important to us than the health and safety of our customers” and that this was an “isolated incident at a single restaurant at 331 6th Avenue in Greenwich Village, New York, and it is totally unacceptable.”

However, hygiene issues were not new to this particular outlet. There were some past complaints about the restaurant. According to the New York City Health Department web site, the KFC/Taco Bell restaurant has been cited for rat or mice problems no fewer than four times in the past three years from the time of Youtube incident. Before that also, the restaurant was cited for 14 violations including inadequate personal cleanliness; evidence of roaches or live roaches present in the facility’s food; and evidence of mice or live mice present in the facility’s food and/or non-food areas. But there were no clear safety measures were taken both by the local health department or by the Yum Brands. However, after this incidence, the local health officer was fired by the New York Health Department.

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