Chinese government deems KFC too wasteful, encourages boycott

A KFC China promotion gone terribly wrong...or right, depending on who you ask.

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KFC
Photo: Long JIngcha / Costfoto/Barcroft Media (Getty Images)

The Colonel is in hot water in China. In a collaboration with Chinese toy maker Pop Mart, KFC recently offered a giveaway where customers could get limited-edition KFC Dimoo dolls with qualifying purchases, according to Reuters. The giveaway was meant to celebrate KFC’s 35th anniversary of its first location’s opening in China–an innocent little money-making venture on behalf of the fried chicken giant.

Turns out, these KFC dolls are actually pretty sick. A mad dash for the Dimoo series ensued, with customers buying meal after meal–sometimes even tossing the food out entirely–and even hiring people to purchase and eat meals for them. At least one customer spent the equivalent of nearly $1,650 to buy 106 meals at once to secure the collectibles.

Which–let’s pause here for a second. I am someone who spent an entire childhood shoving her grubby little hands into the bottom of cereal boxes whether the box advertised a prize or not, and as an adult I cannot make a purchase without searching “[store name/airline name/doctor name] discount code,” which means I am a huge fan of both prizes and promotions, even and especially if the “free” part comes at the cost of me spending a ton of money in the first place. Yes, I know Kohl’s cash is basically a pyramid scheme committed to forcing you spend more money at Kohl’s. You know what else I know? The oversized men’s henley I didn’t really need for $6 is VERY SOFT. You know what’s better than a s’mores maker? A s’mores maker you didn’t plan on buying until you learned of your great fortune that must be used in the next three days: $15 in Kohl’s cash! Leave this KFC super-purchaser alone! It’s an investment, okay?!

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Sorry. I get worked up. Anyway, the promo featured a “blind box” situation, which means the type of doll would be a surprise until customers opened it. This means that to collect the entire set of six dolls, you’d have to buy a lot of KFC.

The China Consumers Association, a government-affiliated consumer group, was not happy about the excessive waste generated by the stunt, and encouraged a boycott. In a statement, it cited an anti-food waste law enacted in April 2021, saying, “The China Consumers Association believes that KFC, as a food operator, uses the limited-edition blind box sales method to induce and condone consumers’ irrational and excessive purchase of food packages, which is contrary to public order, good customs and the spirit of the law.”

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Damn, that’s brutal. But maybe they’re just trying to look out for Chinese consumers. I mean, Popeyes is better, right?