The world knows KFC likes to stand out – find any of its legendary communication assets as your proof. So when its objective was to raise brand awareness with millions of new Gen Z and Millennial digital natives, as well as increase the popularity of KFC’s founder, Colonel Sanders, in Germany, it knew how and where to engage with their creativity – TikTok.
To reach its target audience at scale, KFC ran a Branded Hashtag Challenge, one of TikTok’s most popular ad formats. The challenge – #DoTheColonel – was simple: users showcased their "colonel moves" by following a short dance routine, set to a bespoke soundtrack. And the TikTok community wasn’t shy.
KFC used 22 popular German TikTok creators to kickstart the campaign and demonstrate its unique dance routine, moving from black to white outfits in the process. Using creators to start a challenge generates huge reach through their combined followings, as well as providing inspiration for UGC. Catchy and fun to dance to, the music track also encouraged users to add their own flair – from dancing in a KFC car park to strange outfits, TikTok users eagerly accepted the challenge.
The beauty of the Branded Hashtag Challenge format is that any brand can go truly viral, because TikTok shines a light on great content. This format is discoverable far and wide, through Official Videos (KFC launched five), the Discover page with its trending hashtag list, through supporting ads and, of course, all of the UGC created, all housed on a central "challenge page." This is a moment for both the brand and the community to share together. KFC ran TopView and In-Feed Ads alongside the Branded Hashtag Challenge to boost exposure and drive more users to the challenge page.
The campaign was a resounding success, driving more than 216 million video views and 53,000 entries in total – metrics that far exceeded benchmarks. The UGC created around #DoTheColonel was fiercely creative, showing that the TikTok community connected with this enjoyable and easy challenge, cutting through the feed. Want further proof? The campaign also generated an impressive 12.44% UGC engagement rate, as users liked, commented and shared it thousands of times. It was a masterclass in how to have fun whilst raising awareness – by the bucket-load.