KFC Germany apologized for an “unacceptable” message sent to customers on Wednesday, which appeared to tie a sales promotion to the annual commemoration of Kristallnacht.
KFC app users in the country received a message encouraging them to mark the day with crispy chicken and cheese from KFC, according to Twitter users who shared screengrabs of the message in German. The initial message was apparently followed by another, saying the first was an error.
Kristallnacht, often translated as “Night of Broken Glass,” refers to a series of violent raids by the Nazi regime on Jewish businesses, homes and synagogues in 1938.
“Earlier today an automated push notification was accidently [SIC] issued to KFC app users in Germany that contained an obviously unplanned, insensitive and unacceptable message,” KFC Germany said in a statement emailed to CNN Business. “We understand and respect the gravity and history of this day, and remain committed to equity, inclusion and belonging for all.”
“We sincerely apologise,” the statement continued.
KFC Germany didn’t confirm the language used in the alert.
The company explained that it relies on a “semi-automated content creation process linked to calendars that include national observances,” adding that “in this instance, our internal review process was not properly followed, resulting in a non-approved notification being shared.”
KFC Germany said yesterday that it suspended app communications while it put its process under review to make sure something like this doesn’t happen again.
In this case, the company was able to blame an automated system for the mistake. But brands often get their messaging wrong around holidays or memorial days, especially ones that commemorate a painful occasion.
Brands rushed to create messages and products for the holiday this year, and many missed the mark. Some relied on racist tropes to mark the occasion and others treated it like a glib celebration, leaving people disappointed and offended.
KFC’s message resulted in similar outrage among some German customers and has been widely criticized on social media.