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KFC Apologises For Kristallnacht Chicken And Cheese Promotion

KFC has apologised for a push notification sent out via its app inviting German customers to celebrate the anniversary of the Nazi Kristallnacht pogrom against Jews by ordering fried chicken and cheese.

It sent the message to its customers on Wednesday, the 84th anniversary of the Night of Broken Glass in which Nazis led gangs in the torching, vandalising and ransacking of Jewish shops, businesses and synagogues across Germany. The event is seen as the beginning of the Nazis’ systematic attempt to annihilate Europe’s Jewish population.

KFC reached out to its customers with the message: “Commemorate Kristallnacht – treat yourself to more soft cheese and crispy chicken. Now at KFCheese!”

About an hour later it sent out another message apologising for the first and blaming it on “a fault in our system”.

It has been speculated that the message was computer generated, with the text to promote its cheesy chicken being automatically connected to current anniversaries and events to stimulate sales. But social media experts in Germany said they were astounded that the company had no checking mechanism to pick up on the blunder, apparently noticing only after it had been reported back to them that the erroneous message had gone out.

The company has not explained how the message came to be sent out. In its correction, the company said: “We are very sorry, we will check our internal processes immediately so that this doesn’t happen again. Please excuse the error.”

The tabloid Bild called the mistake “tasteless” and said it was “fast-food advertising at the cost of the remembrance of the victims of the Nazi regime”.

In pogroms across Germany on the night between 9 and 10 November, 1938, Nazi mobs took to the streets of German towns and cities in an attempt to intimidate Jewish citizens with acts of violence. The attacks, in which large numbers of the SS and SA troops were involved, led to most of the country’s synagogues going up in flames.

Official reports at the time said 91 people were killed in the attacks, about 7,500 businesses were devastated, and 267 synagogues and community halls were destroyed. But historians believe the real figure was higher, with more than 1,300 people losing their lives and at least 1,400 synagogues in Germany and Austria badly damaged or destroyed.

The events of that night marked the end of Jews being able to lead public lives in Germany and prompted hundreds of thousands of Jewish families to flee the country. Three years later, the systematic mass deportations to concentration camps – which later became known as the Holocaust – began, in which an estimated 6 million European Jews were murdered.

The incident recalled other fast-food advertising slogan gaffs, such as when McDonald’s in Portugal used the campaign slogan “Sundae Bloody Sundae” in a Halloween campaign for its ice-cream puddings. It pulled the campaign after protests, insisting it had never intended to refer to Bloody Sunday in 1972, when British paratroopers shot dead demonstrators at a civil rights march in Derry, Northern Ireland.

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