KFC has made the gamer community a core pillar of its communications in China since 2015. Four years on, gaming has become a serious sport in China.
- Valued at US$1.25 billion in 2018
- Projected to grow to US$3 billion by 2020
- 24% YoY growth rate for audiences aged 16 to 30
(Sources: CCTV and China National Resident Survey)
With gaming getting more serious, KFC needed to move away from the sidelines of sponsorship and into deeper engagement with gamers.
Objective: Don’t be just a spectator, instead become part of the game by making KFC an integral part of League of Legends, the world’s most popular e-Sport game with roughly 111 million players in China alone (Source: Laoyuegou).
Gamers like their numbers. Win ratios. Gold collected. Magic stats. Health stats. Attack damage.
e-Sports games, like League of Legends, have exponentially more numbers than a typical game of football or basketball. With all of these numbers churned out in real time, fans and sports commentators are often forced to rely on gut feel to anticipate who will win a match.
No typical fan has the time to do predictive probability calculations while watching a game that has four or five things happening simultaneously. It is often the person next to you in the crowd, the friend you are watching with online or the commentator of the day who influences which team you believe will win.
Enter Colonel KI (KFC-AI) – KFC’s AI algorithm for predicting League of Legend winners.
Giving fans this new capability was the only way for KFC to be truly integral to the gaming experience; The Colonel was the perfect persona to deliver this to fans.
KFC partnered with data company PentaQ to create an algorithm based on all historical data and real-time data for each team. The algorithm in the form of Colonel KI was capable of giving out real-time predictions on who would win a match based on game stats.
The AI predictor proved to be so accurate that fans went crazy for it, essentially becoming the League of Legends’ ‘Paul the Octopus’.
In e-Sports, real-time performance data is vital for an audience to truly understand the current situation, as well as crucial for gamers to analyse their performance versus their competitors, allowing them to develop and refine their future strategy.
KFC added value from start to finish, as all gamers and fans could track the predictions before, during and after the matches.
This approach ensured KFC became an integral part of the game, delivering added value to gamers, fans, and of course, the brand.
Colonel KI’s predictions were featured on the actual game screen. He appeared at the beginning of each game and also during every break of the livestreaming to give predictions.
During the game, a Colonel KI graph at the bottom of the screen appeared to show real-time win rates (pointing to the team who was likeliest to win), which updated as the game progressed.
During the most exciting moments of the game (e.g. “first blood” or the first score of each match), Colonel KI also served as a warm-hearted cheerleader and distributed KFC coupons to fans – inviting the audience to order KFC online and have fried chicken while enjoying the game.
Whilst League of Legends is played in a desktop environment, gamers spend all their remaining time analysing the game, catching up on game news, and socializing about the game on their mobile phones.
To ensure KFC did not miss out on this important part of the gaming journey, we created a HTML 5 version of Colonel KI’s winning predictions.
This was housed on KFC’s mobile app, allowing fans to log into the mobile app to access live game data, track real-time predictions throughout the match, and check out mobile-exclusive data on what was going on in the arena, down to the most micro of stats.
All this mobile content benefitted gamers, as it allowed them to recap their performance after the game, analysing at which point in time the odds shifted in their favour. We also created mobile-only coupons for hungry gamers, allowing them to fuel up on KFC before each League of Legends match.
This not only placed mobile front-and-centre of Colonel KI’s activities, but also fed into KFC’s CRM and business activity, as its mobile app is one of its key sales channels in China.
By creating Colonel KI and turning it into the new League of Legends icon, KFC was able to cement its position as the MVP (Most Valuable Player) with gamers, plus gain new fans for its mobile app and widespread buzz for its first-of-its-kind innovation.
More importantly, mobile-specific performance proved the value of our strategy of placing mobile front-and-centre of the Colonel KI experience.