Mindshare: KFC’s Colonel KI

An AI robot of KFC's Colonel in a futuristic space

Mindshare: KFC’s Colonel KI

Winning over the gaming community with AI persona: Colonel KI

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In 2018, KFC created Colonel KI (KFC-AI) – KFC’s in-game AI persona that could predict the winners of League of Legends, one of the world’s most popular multiplayer online battle arena video games.

As COVID-19 hit, China’s eSports sector witnessed a huge boom, with an 83% YOY increase in gaming content watched (on Twitch), spurred on by the pandemic forcing people to stay at home. To further win over gamers, KFC upgraded Colonel KI from an AI persona into its official KOL of the eSports world.

Uniting fans behind a win for China, KFC created Colonel KI Collector Cards in partnership with four of China’s leading League of Legend’s teams – the very first eSports and League of Legends collector cards in existence.

Every card featured a team member from China’s top teams. All 28 card types were blindly mixed together, with limited edition hidden cards featuring the teams’ pet mascots up for grabs to drive demand. China’s top teams created content of the cards’ release, and KFC organised offline card exchange events and world championship watch parties in stores, making KFC the go-to venue for the championships.

The gamer community exploded with the release of the Colonel’s Cards, generating 310 million topic views and 111,000 topic discussions of the Colonel’s Cards, and gamers’ unboxing videos generated 20x more UGC than any other sponsor – landing twice on Bilibili’s Hot chart. As a result, KFC-related mentions increased 3x vs 2020, crowning KFC as the most mentioned brand by fans for yet another year – all thanks to its KFC-owned and branded eSports IP – Colonel KI.

With significantly less budget than competing sponsors of League of Legends, KFC successfully managed to upgrade Colonel KI into the tournament’s hottest and busiest KOL and as a result, KFC was able to reinforce its value with gamers while driving sales.