Squabble Between KFC & Franchisees Over Advertising Goes To Court

As we reported last month, a group of KFC franchisees is clucking mad with what they say is the company’s increased focus on grilled chicken. Now both sides are fighting it out in a Delaware courtroom, where a judge will decide who has the ultimate authority to guide the direction of KFC’s marketing and advertising.

On one side of the case is the KFC National Council and Advertising Cooperative Inc., which represents over 80% of the KFC franchises in the U.S. The council is trying to convince the court that KFC’s “lopsided” advertising push for the relatively new grilled chicken products over the tried-and-true fried chicken has damaged the franchisees’ business.

According to Bloomberg New, the council’s vice chairman, who also owns 201 KFCs in 11 states, testified that the message from corporate “was ‘grill baby grill’” even as “things went to hell in a handbasket.”

In papers filed with the court, the council contends that KFC corporate “has recently taken the position that KFC Corp. has the sole authority” to direct advertising, and that franchisees who refuse to cooperate could face “personal liability.”

KFC’s parent company, Yum! Brands, has called the lawsuit baseless.

Yum’s KFC Unit Goes to Trial With Franchisees Over `Grill Baby Grill’ Ads [Bloomberg]