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Courage in the The Era of Experimentation and Failure

You have probably seen news of KFC's new edible nail polish that tastes like fried chicken. Here is why it is interesting and important to the field of packaging design and branding.

The tidal wave of new 21st Century trends continues to build and shows no signs of slowing.  Many people, from CEOs to the newest hires, have accepted that failure is a natural and valuable tool, that it is to be expected, celebrated, and contains its own rewards, because the freedom to fail is what encourages people to dream.  

And when people dream, and are encouraged to follow those dreams in a low risk work environment, miracles happen. 

Ultimately it is basic mathematical probability: If you are dedicatedly working toward a goal, then the more you try and fail, the greater the chance that you find the thing that will succeed beyond your wildest dreams.


So, what does accepting failure have to do with KFC's edible nail polish?


The short answer is: A "bad" idea, may not be such a bad idea.

A more full answer has at least five parts:  

1) This move by KFC demonstrates the full spirit of the times for product and packaging design, and branding and promotion, which is how progress, and profits, will be made in this new millennium. This spirit is not only experimental, it is surreal, even dada, and it is fun.  

Every click of like, love, or hate, furthers the free advertising.

2) I believe KFC knows the idea of chicken flavored edible nail polish is not only way out there, but in many ways is a very "bad" idea, and knows it is likely to fail as a product.  But that is not the point.  The point is that the idea is so weird, even to the point of making some people cringe at the thought, that it must get talked about (and it has).


3) Something like this is every effective, and for the most part free, advertising for KFC, because it is so weird it will get retweeted, posted, shared, forwarded, spoofed, goofed and so on.  

Review spoof of KFC nail polish.

4) Furthermore the product is experiential: 

  • Fingernail biting is a habit most people have had at some point, and engages numerous subconscious systems, especially those of putting hand to mouth.  

  • But even more importantly, just the thought of fried chicken flavored nail polish forces one to recall the flavor of fried chicken which immediately engages the gastronomical and emotional systems, and starts one thinking, What is the fastest way to get me some chicken?  


5) This product also demonstrates Customer-Centricity in several ways:

  • It has natural ingredients because people don't want to put chemicals in their mouth, 
  • people want and need things to share online to keep the likes and clicks coming, 
  • and it provides the thrill of the new, and the "yuck" factor that younger generations often use to distinguish themselves from their elders. 

All three of these are hallmarks of the millennial generation.

The first video ad for KFC's flavored nail polish.

KFC is not the only company to go the weird, surreal, dada route to get free advertising via shares.  Dig this . . .

And if you think this type of advertising would not work for mainstream products and czech audiences, see the following ad for Hornbach.


The BIG Point: We are not in an era of tranquil safety, we are in an era of extremely rapid change.  The future belongs to the courageous. Do not be afraid to fail, and give "bad" ideas a second thought for their possible hidden benefits.  It may be the most valuable thing you do. And remember, if your company isn't courageous, your competition might be.