Tag Archives: supply chain

Where’s the Chicken?

In what might arguably be one of the most ironic situations faced by a restaurant, KFC ran out of chicken and had to close more than half of its 900 restaurants in the UK. Yes, you read that right – Kentucky Fried Chicken ran out of chicken (which I guess makes it KF instead of KFC).

The supply chain issue that closed the 562 outlets was blamed on switching KFC’s delivery contract from South African-owned distribution group Bidvest Logistics to DHL. DHL blamed “operational issues” for the snafu. Some of the outlets were able to remain open, but with a limited menu.

Indeed, one can understand that it is a complex task to get fresh chicken to 900 restaurants across the country. According to news reports, the GMB union warned KFC that switching suppliers was a mistake. It certainly appears that they were right.

(Update: As of Feb. 28, 97% of KFC stores were open, but according to Reuters the company is now reporting facing another shortage… this time it’s gravy!)

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. In order to be successful, companies must be able to physically get a product into the hands of the customers. Discuss how a distribution channel works.
  2. Show the video of the KFC issue: https://youtu.be/jM53cQJACCg
  3. For KFC, what distribution channels are used now?
  4. How can the channel be expanded? What approach could be used?
  5. Divide students into teams. Have each team draw a flow chart for the distribution of the product.

Source:   BBC (19 February, 2018). Chicken chaos as KFC closes outlets.

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Was The Force with You? Columbia’s Star Wars Jackets

The newest movie in the Star Wars franchise is now in theaters and fans can’t get enough of the series of popular movies, or the Star Wars’- related products. The products are flying off the shelves as if they were under control of The Force. We are particularly sad to report that Columbia’s exclusive Star Wars-themed Echo Base outerwear collection sold out within minutes after its release! (Cross that one off your Christmas shopping list.)

Columbia released three jackets based on those worn by Luke, Leia, and Han while on the icy planet of Hoth. Luke’s jacket was designed to be “warmer than a tauntaun.” Han’s jacket reminds us to “Never tell me the odds.” And with Leia’s jacket, “May the force be with you.”

The company made only 1,980 coats (Get it? 1980 was the year of The Empire Strikes Back release) and they sold out online almost immediately, with very few left in stores. According to Columbia, the Luke jacket sold out in 5 minutes 22 seconds; the Han parka in 6 minutes 23 seconds; and the Leia jacket in 7 minutes 05 seconds. Not quite hyper-drive speed, but pretty darn fast nonetheless.

Columbia said the jackets were “built to withstand freezing temperatures on Hoth or other galaxies closer to home.” Unfortunately for fans, there are no plans to create more jackets.

Never underestimate the power of The Force, or a limited release.

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss the power of entertainment for marketing products.
  2. Poll students. What products related to movies or shows can they recall? Have they bought any of these?
  3. Show Columbia’s Star Wars-themed site: https://www.columbia.com/starwars/
  4. Discuss why the product sold out so quickly? Who was the target market? What role did exclusivity play in the sales?
  5. Should Columbia make more of the jackets?

Source:  Griner, D. (2017, Dec. 8). Columbia created a line of Empire Strikes Back’ jackets and sold out in minutes. Adweek.

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Public Relations in Action

Students often wonder how public relations can used as a promotional tool. Compared to advertising – which is very transparent – public relations and press releases are hidden from the view of most consumers. Yet, public relations is a critical tool in the marketing toolbox. It is relatively inexpensive, can be targeted to specific news outlets, can be easily sent to any geography and industry, is a simple way to “influence the influencers,” and it lends an aura of credibility when we read a story in the news.

In reality, although public relations looks like news, all of the efforts are initiated by marketers. Let’s look at an example in the news recently about autonomous-driving trucks:

  1. An article in Wired magazine recently highlighted the efforts by Embark Trucks with its autonomous trucks hauling Frigidaire refrigerators 650 miles from El Paso, Texas, to Palm Springs, California. No driver operated the trucks while they were on the expressway.
  2. While the information in the article is good, the point of this post and discussion is to examine how press releases impact business news.
  3. For that, start with the article, then examine Embark’s Web site, YouTube, Business Wire, and the press release (see below for links).

Where do students think business news comes from?

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Start by discussing the value of public relations.
  2. A video of the process can be seen at http://www.businesswire.com/portal/site/home/welcome/
  3. Article on Embark and Frigidaire: Wired magazine online:


  1. Embark Trucks Web site: http://embarktrucks.com/
  2. Video from Embark also posted on YouTube: https://youtu.be/3yPMxV11KaA
  3. Link to how Business Wire works:


  1. Link to press releases about Embark:


  1. Specific press release that informs the article:


  1. Have students find business articles in the news and trace the articles back to information provided by companies.

Source:  Business Wire; Embark Trucks; Davies A. (2017, Nov. 13). Self-driving trucks are now delivering refrigerators. Wired.

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