KFC: KFC Transforms eSports Marketing with Collector Cards


Campaign Summary

KFC's innovative marketing campaign centered around the creation of Colonel KI Collector Cards, successfully united Chinese eSports fans, and elevated KFC's brand presence in the gaming community. By tapping into the nostalgia of collector cards and leveraging the popularity of League of Legends, KFC connected its beloved eSports IP with its meals, creating a sense of belonging and excitement among fans. Through strategic partnerships, offline events, online promotions, and exclusive hidden cards, KFC turned its sponsorship of Worlds 2021 into a catalyst for uniting fans, driving engagement, and achieving remarkable business impact.



In 2018, KFC created Colonel KI (KFC-AI), an AI persona within the game League of Legends (LoL), capable of predicting match winners based on real-time data. Colonel KI gained immense popularity among fans, becoming KFC's owned IP associated with the game. In 2021, due to the relocation of the League of Legends World Championships from China to Iceland, KFC aimed to reverse the negativity among Chinese fans and unite them behind a common victory for China. KFC wanted to leverage Colonel KI's popularity and strengthen its brand influence among young Chinese eSports enthusiasts. The objective was to foster a sense of unity and belonging among fans during the tournament.

Target Audience:

The target audience consisted of young Chinese eSports enthusiasts, with a particular focus on those under the age of 25, who accounted for 47 percent of all Chinese eSports fans.

Creative Strategy:

To encourage unity among fans at Worlds 2021, KFC partnered with four of China's most acclaimed eSports clubs to release Colonel KI Collector Cards, the first-ever eSports and League of Legends collector cards. These cards tapped into the nostalgia of millennial and generation Z players, evoking memories of traditional collector cards from their childhood. Each card featured a team member from China's top teams, connecting fan-favorite eSports stars with KFC's beloved owned eSports IP, Colonel KI. The cards were distributed as free branded gifts with KFC meals, establishing a strong association between the brand and the eSports community.


Colonel KI had gained significant recognition among League of Legends fans since his creation in 2018, thanks to his accurate match result predictions. In 2021, KFC aimed to elevate Colonel KI's role as a leader in the eSports community, encouraging gamers to engage with each other and integrating eSports scenes into their everyday lives.


Overall Campaign Execution:

During the tournament, Colonel KI's cards were given away with each purchased KFC meal. China's top teams created content to promote the release of the cards, generating excitement among fans. Unboxing videos and live streams of the cards' release in KFC stores went viral on social media, driving further demand. Offline card exchange events and world championship watch parties were organized in KFC stores, establishing them as the go-to venue for championships and a gathering place for Chinese fans to unite and support their teams.

Mobile Execution:

After China's team won the League of Legends World Championship, fans could scan the logos of China's competing teams on Colonel's cards using the AR function of the KFC app to unlock additional KFC coupons, further engaging fans, and boosting their pride in team China's triumph.

Business Impact (including context, evaluation, and market impact)

The release of Colonel KI's Collector Cards generated immense excitement among fans, resulting in a complete sell-out within three days. KFC experienced a remarkable 307 percent boost in ROI, and the brand was the most mentioned by fans compared to other sponsors. Online, the cards generated 310 million topic views and 111,000 topic discussions, with unboxing videos garnering 20 times more user-generated content (UGC) than any other sponsor, appearing twice on bilibili's Hot Chart. During the tournament, fans could interact directly with Colonel KI, asking for match predictions and snapping up all 200,000 available KFC coupons within seconds during the world finals. The unique combination of China's leading eSports teams and KFC's owned IP, Colonel KI, successfully united the divided eSports fanbase in China and fueled China's victory in the world championships.

Categories: | Industries: | Objectives: Cross Platform — All Media, Customer Life-Cycle Marketing | Awards: X Global Silver Winner