KFC's Offensive Kristallnacht Ad Is Facing Backlash

It goes without saying that certain historical events must be treated delicately and with solemn respect. Whether it's a tragedy, a disaster, or a day of sober memorialization of those lost, it's generally considered that these events are to be handled with extreme sensitivity. Unfortunately, whether it is through a lack of foresight or extremely bad choices, some companies have come under fire for failing to meet the moment, even making light of these events to suit their own purposes.

In September 2022, a seafood restaurant in Virginia decided to honor those who lost their lives during the September 11, 2001 attacks with a "promotional menu" of foods and drinks themed after 9/11 itself (via Newsweek). While the restaurant owner apologized, claiming he was only trying to bring attention to the attacks rather than glorify them, dishes such as "2977 Chowder," "Flight 93 Redirect," and the "Remember-tini" left a bad taste in the mouths of many social media users. McDonald's also came under fire for a similar event in 2015, in which a commercial featured McDonald's signs referencing everything from 9/11 to the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to the Boston Marathon bombings as part of a campaign to make Mcdonald's appear more "American" (via Business Insider).

Recently, KFC found itself under fire in Germany for, in an admittedly bizarre marketing promotion, using Kristallnacht to promote its chicken sandwiches.

KFC used the beginning of the Holocaust to sell chicken

For those who may not know what Kristallnacht is, it refers to the "Night of Broken Glass," a term used to describe the actions of Nazi soldiers in Germany from November 9 to 10, 1938. During the "Night of Broken Glass," Nazi soldiers and "ordinary citizens" destroyed Jewish schools and synagogues, vandalized homes and shops and killed or arrested hundreds of innocent Jewish civilians (via History). While many historians view it as the start of the Holocaust, KFC used it in what can only be described as a very poorly-made promotional advertisement.

As BBC reports, the now-deleted message read: "It's memorial day for Kristallnacht! Treat yourself with more tender cheese on your crispy chicken. Now at KFCheese!" An hour after this message was blasted out, showing up in the mobile apps of users around the globe, KFC uploaded a follow-up apologizing for the shocking promotion. The brand blamed an "error" in its system, which follows national holidays and memorial dates, which accidentally sent the message. This, however, wasn't enough to undo what many saw as something cynical and disgusting.

"How wrong can you get on Kristallnacht KFC Germany. Shame on you!" was the response by Jewish NGO Anti-Defamation League's associate director of European affairs Dalia Grinfeld. Although KFC apologized and blamed the ad on a computer error, some, such as the tabloid magazine Bild, according to The Guardian, have claimed KFC's advertising comes at the cost of victims of the Nazi regime.