Now several years into the ‘second coming’ of virtual reality (VR) we’ve become accustomed to various brands utilising it to tell the story of their product or sell their product in a variety of different ways. Be these VR viewers as part of the product, utilising the branding to tell a story or just give a branded experience in 360 degrees or on occasions to try something a little bit more different, a little bit more creative, or a little bit just plain wacky.
The latest to do so is Kentucky Fried Chicken aka KFC and the way they’re utilising VR is very much under the creative/unusual bracket.
Called The Hard Way: A KFC Virtual Training Escape Room, the experience looks to channel Job Simulator and, apparently, sheer utter terror. In The Hard Way would be employees enter a mysterious kitchen area to learn the ways of cooking chicken the traditional way as The Colonel did more than 70 years ago. After you successfully completing the five main steps – inspecting, rinsing, breading, racking, and pressure frying – participants then exit the kitchen with an understanding of what it takes to cook Original Recipe chicken like a true connoisseur of finger lickin’ culinary enterprises.
“In 1940 the Colonel was just one man frying chicken by hand. Now we have nearly 19,000 trained cooks across the U.S., but they’re still doing it by hand.” Explains George Felix, KFC U.S.’s Director of Advertising. “Our cooking process hasn’t changed much in 70 years, but the way we can train our cooks using modern technology sure has.”
Which is great. Fantastic. Now let’s get to the point where KFC have gone out of their way to make it look bloody frightening. The experience, developed by W+K Lodge and which utilises the Oculus Rift and Oculus Touch is all part of their employee training scheme and the “Chicken Mastery Certification”, an eLearning and hands-on training for KFC’s cooks. It’s been created as a fun add-on and to show it off they have produced a trailer.
The trailer includes: a malfunctioning helper robot, deadly lasers, jump scare like transitions, objects with minds of their own and for some reason the creepiest cover version of Tiffany’s 1987 hit I Think We’re Alone Now (or the original by Tommy James and the Shondells if you like) ever produced. There’s also the fact that The Colonel (as in the real one), is… you know… dead. There’s the mascot Colonel obviously, but when you’re being stared at by real eyes from the picture of the Colonel on the wall with all this going on you might begin to wonder just what you’ve signed up for. Especially as The Colonel will apparently be giving you hints and tips throughout as you learn.
“What excites us is experimenting with new tools and mediums to tell stories.” Explains Jonathan Minori, W+K Lodge design director. “VR became an obvious choice to create an immersive experience that teaches trainees how to make KFC’s Original Recipe. The escape room concept builds on the pure training and utility of the experience into something that’s also entertaining and connected to KFC’s iconic founder.”
This post was originally written by the author for VRFocus.