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Is KFC’s Double Down a double whammy?

April 20, 2010

KFC’s new, artery-choking Double Down sandwich is getting lots of media buzz — but is it helping the brand?

The breadless “sandwich” is just the latest in a long line of decadent dishes from fast-food chains. It features bacon, cheese and “the Colonel’s” special sauce sandwiched between two boneless grilled or fried chicken filets.  It’s a low-carb dream but a healthy eater’s nightmare as it is loaded with calories, salt and fat.

The Double Down landed in stores on April 12,  about a year after the company introduced healthier grilled chicken nationwide. Its debut has nutritionists calling foul and served as fodder for late night jokes, food blogs — including those run by CNN, the Los Angeles Times and Consumerist —  and all those guys who make videos of people eating the latest headline-grabbing fast food.

But according YouGov BrandIndex, which does daily consumer perception research on brands, the Double Down has helped erase all of the perception gains KFC won with the launch of its healthier grilled chicken.

KFC’s “buzz score” levels had been steadily declining for the past month, leading up to the Double Down’s debut last week, YouGov said. Such scores can range from 100 to -100 and are compiled by subtracting negative feedback from positive. A zero score means equal positive and negative feedback.

KFC’s buzz score, which fell as low as 11.5 on the day of the Double Down debut, was 24.4 on March 1 and is currently trending around 14.

BRANDINDEX2

YouGov BrandIndex interviews 5,000 people each weekday from a representative US population sample and margin of error is +/- 2 percent.  YouGov asks participants this question:  “If you’ve heard anything about the brand in the last two weeks, was it positive or negative?”

(Reuters photo; graphic courtesy of YouGov BrandIndex)

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