Emily Tan
Feb 11, 2016

Case Study: How KFC Malaysia stole a burger-march on McD's

KUALA LUMPUR - Mediabrands and KFC used programmatic video targeting to launch the Hot & Cheezy Chicken Burger and steal the youthful burger crowd from rival McDonald's.

The Hot & Cheezy burger is quite fresh
The Hot & Cheezy burger is quite fresh


When it comes to burgers, McDonald's is the top choice for millennials in Malaysia.  KFC on the other hand is for families and those who love their fried chicken. 


In December 2015, KFC launched the Hot & Cheezy burger in response to the increasing trend among urban Malaysians who like spicy flavour. The aim was to attract the younger generation, and just like the changing habits relating to food, the KFC team at Ensemble, the content marketing arm of IPG Mediabrands, had to develop a marketing campaign aligned with what the younger generation liked to view.


First, the team thoroughly researched the market to understand the content consumption habits and online viewing behaviour of millennials. YouTube was the go-to site for all millennials, and with that in mind, the big idea was to develop a campaign featuring a Hot & Cheezy burger, which spouted very cheesy pickup-lines based on the video they were watching.

With data at the centre to inform the intuition, programmatic technology became the bridge between creativity and analytics. Instead of developing one 30-second ad that would run on all forms of media, Ensemble decided to collaborate with Google and distribute more than 100 tailor-made preroll ads in response to the search results of the target audience on You Tube.

Built for the “skip generation”, These micro videos—15 seconds or less in duration—were developed on a weekly basis using insights gleaned from real-time viewing behaviours and distributed to viewers across 10 verticals such as sports, music, K-drama, gadgets, Bollywood, food, politics and of course cats. Built for the “skip generation”, these short and snappy ads were and filled with wry, cheesy humour to drive home the message about the newly launched burger in a whimsical way.



Every week, new videos were added as per viewing trends. The production of this campaign involved close collaboration among four parties: KFC, Ensemble, UM and Google. Google provided real-time data, Ensemble wrote and produced the scripts and videos, KFC checked for brand integrity and UM distributed the videos via its programmatic engine.

Agility was crucial. New scripts were written and videos shot on a weekly basis to mirror the top 25 trending videos on YouTube. In a thrilling new experience with a whole new pace of work, the team functioned like a newsroom, deploying and optimising the campaign in real-time, based on how consumers responded to the prerolls, whilst removing those that had low view rates. The Ensemble team also released a series of contextual digital banners to match with the micro videos.

At the same time, it was important to ensure that the team was not sacrificing the quality of the work or integrity of the brand for the sake of speed.


The ads and their renditions were served to millions of viewers during the campaign period, stretching over four weeks of December 2015. Viewing completion rates of these videos touched 35 percent, breaking Google Malaysia’s record for preroll view-through rates. The average view rate for any preroll campaign in Malaysia is only around 17 per cent.

Immediately after the launch of Hot & Cheezy campaign, burger sales increased by 16 percent week-on-week. The campaign did so well that KFC outlets had to stock up on the burgers faster than they were selling out. Hot & Cheezy has been the best performing burger for KFC in years. 

Within two weeks of the campaign launch, Google Malaysia included Hot & Cheezy in its media gallery hall-of-fame, a repository of campaigns where people come for inspiration.


ECD – Woei Hern Chan, MUN (Ensemble)
Art – Norman Tang, Yves Wan (Ensemble)
Copy – RuZen Chung, Mo (Ensemble)
Head of Production – Loreen Lim (Ensemble)
Client Servicing - Sean Wong (Ensemble)
Strategy –  Amit Sutha, Rina Low (UM)
Head of Tech-  Marlo Ongpin (Ensemble)
Senior Executive Performance: Wong Jun Kang (Reprise)
Media – Senior planner : Laura Ajong, Lim Yee Wen,
Head of buying : Stephanie Chin,
Senior buyer : Alina Tan,
Planner : Alexis Hong (UM)
Social media specialist: Wong Nwan Jeng
Social Media Team lead  : Aisha Tan
Production house – Effecthory
KFC Client: Angelina Villanueva Senior General Manager, Marketing


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