KFC was forced to apologise on Wednesday after using the anniversary of an infamous Nazi pogrom against Jews to promote fried chicken to its German customers, causing outrage in the country.
Customers were shocked to receive a push notification from the fast food company’s app inviting them to commemorate the 84th anniversary of Kristallnacht, which translates to the “night of broken glass,” by ordering themselves a treat.
“It’s memorial day for Kristallnacht! Treat yourself with more tender cheese on your crispy chicken,” read the message in German, using the phrase “Reich Pogrom Night” instead of Kristallnacht, which is now favoured in Germany as Kristallnacht sounds too benign.
The inexplicably tone-deaf marketing blunder was followed shortly afterwards by an all-caps apology, saying “SORRY WE MADE A MISTAKE.” The message blamed the “incorrect and inappropriate message” on “a bug in our system,” and said it wouldn’t happen again.
The message drew immediate condemnation on social media. “How out of line can you be on Reich Pogrom Night,” tweeted Dalia Grinfeld, the Berlin-based associate director of European affairs at the Anti-Defamation League.
“Shame on you!”
“KFC Germany what the hell is wrong with you?” tweeted another user.
Kristallnacht was a wave of violent antisemitic pogroms which took place throughout the German Reich on the 9th and 10th of November, 1938, in which organised mobs destroyed hundreds of synagogues, looted thousands of Jewish businesses, and killed at least 91 Jews. The massacre was a major stepchange in the persecution of Jews under the Nazis, and an augur of the horrors that would shortly follow.