Friday, May 8, 2009

YouTube: Good for the soul?

Catholics use the confessional to ask for forgiveness. Restaurant executives seem to prefer YouTube.   

The latest mea culpa was posted Thursday by KFC, after it infuriated freebie hounds by suspending a much-ballyhooed giveaway of grilled chicken.  “On behalf of all our employees and franchisees, I just wanted to apologize to you. The response to our Kentucky Grilled Chicken has been overwhelming,” chain president Roger Eaton says in the video. “So we can’t redeem your free coupon at this time.”   

Translation: Our chicken was so good that the moochers scarfed up all the samples we were willing to give away. But here’s a raincheck and a promise of a soft drink for your troubles.   

He should’ve studied Domino’s handling of the employee shenanigans at a North Carolina unit to see what a regretful chain executive looks like. Patrick Doyle, the pizza chain’s U.S. president, came across as genuinely sorry and outraged that two knucklehead employees would mess with a restaurant’s food. “It sickens me,” says Doyle. “We sincerely apologize for this incidence…We are taking this incredibly seriously.”   

Let that be a lesson to any chain that’s considering a YouTube apology for lapses like, oh, maybe serving a snake’s head in some broccoli, or selling a Happy Meal with a condom inside.

That’s assuming T.G.I. Friday’s and McDonald’s will turn to the Tube for their make-nice efforts. Several other chains didn't use the video-sharing site to explain their big-time blunders. Instead, Quiznos just let its recent free-subs fiasco reek in public for awhile.  Crain’s Chicago Business quoted an official as charactering the Million Subs Giveaway as a marketing home run despite the fallout with some customers.   

Burger King apologized via more traditional media for its “little Mexican” depiction in a European ad campaign, but it has yet to address parents who are outraged by the chain’s SpongeBob SquarePants commercial for U.S. youngsters.   

Hey, it’s worth 15 minutes and the investment in a Flip video camera. 

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