The chicken chain also wants your help backing a geo-locating bow tie and a TV remote/cane.

Colonel hot tub
Credit: Courtesy of KFC

Releasing bizarre branded items — like a faux bearskin run that looks like Colonel Sanders or an 11 herbs and spices firelog or an internet escape pod — has become a big part of KFC’s marketing. To be fair, that strategy has worked: We’ve covered all those items and then some. But shock value also inherently offers diminishing returns and eliciting that “seriously, KFC?” response becomes more difficult every time. So for its latest parlor trick, KFC is attempting to tap into the hype surrounding crowdfunding campaigns by asking you, the consumer, to fund the brand’s wild concepts.

Today, the chicken chain has launched KFC Innovations Lab on Indiegogo “to bring more of the company’s craziest and most innovative marketing ideas to life by providing fans, or anyone that just wants to see if KFC can really pull this off, an opportunity to help turn these ground-breaking ideas into a reality.” Specifically, the launch includes campaigns for five items:

  • Kentucky Fried Hot Tub — a five-person, wood-fired hot tub “that looks like a KFC bucket”
  • Colonel on Ice — a.k.a. the Colonel Harland Sanders story told Ice Capades-style
  • Little Colonel Locator — billed as “the world’s first location-tracking necktie”
  • Smart Cane Remote — a cane with a built-in smart remote “that is stylish, functional and totally new”
  • Picnic with the Colonel — a cardboard kit that features a build-it-yourself picnic table and life-size cutout of the Colonel

Take a look at the video announcement below:

So why go the Indiegogo route? “This may come as a surprise, but custom ice shows are expensive and complicated,” Steve Kelly, KFC U.S. director of media and digital marketing, quipped via email. “KFC Innovations Lab gives fans an opportunity to be a part of the creative process by allowing them to support only the very best ideas they want to see brought to life.”

Colonel smart cane
Credit: Courtesy of KFC
Colonel tie locator
Credit: Courtesy of KFC

But does it? Let’s look at the Little Colonel Locator. Of the five products, it has the lowest fixed funding goal at $10,050. To get one of these smart ties, KFC fans only have to pledge $132. But only 25 spots are available to be claimed — for a grand total of $3,300… or $6,750 below the goal. Fans can also pitch in lower amounts of money to get perks like stickers, t-shirts, or sweatpants, but how often do you crowdfund a product without expecting to get the actual product? Similar math can be found when crunching the numbers on the other products, too. So, in fairness, backer beware.

Colonel on ice
Credit: Courtesy of KFC

To that end, another innovation from KFC Innovations Lab is this new approach of KFC pitching the prospect of products that — unlike in the past when they actually made things like a chicken-scented yule log — it may never have to deliver. Sure, we all realize this is just a marketing campaign, and most people may not want to fund a $2 million "Colonel on Ice," but why not at least give them a better shot?