Future parents are getting a chance at US$11,000 to jumpstart on their future baby’s college education this September. The only catch is that they have to brand their child with the name Harland, after KFC founder Colonel Harland Sanders.
In a truly cynical sort of “race” (much like BK Russia offering free lifetime Whoppers to women impregnated by World Cup Football players), the fried chicken chain has announced that it will award US$11,000 in tuition to the first baby born on the Colonel’s birthday— September 9—that has the first name Harland.
“Even though vintage names are making a comeback, our iconic founder’s name was dwindling in popularity. [We] couldn’t just stand idly by and let that happen,” Andrea Zahumensky, chief marketing officer for KFC U.S., said in a statement.
The name Harland has been out of fashion for quite a while. In fact, the last time it cracked the top 1,000 names for American baby boys was about 70 years ago. Even then, there were only 155 of them born. However, naming a child after a brand is a temporary, yet profitable stunt for KFC, and a very permanent part of that kid.
A little money that won’t go a long way
It’s sad to think of the conversation young Harland’s parents might someday have with him, explaining that he’s named for a fast food mascot. Worse still would be to imagine all of the uncompensated Harlands who couldn’t make it out into the world fast enough on September 9th to claim first prize.
KFC’s promotion minimizes the very real financial strain that post-secondary education puts on families. It also says a lot about the depressing state of higher education in the United States. Unfortunately, even for US$11,000, parents can still barely afford to pay for a year’s tuition and fees at one of America’s least expensive post-secondary institutions; an expense that’s expected to continue to rise. And while marketing has never been a principled business, KFC’s offer seems like a new low.
One could see how a new parent might seriously consider giving up their chance to name their kid for a remote shot at US$11,000. After all, at least the name is “Harland” and not “KFC.” It could be worse. Parents can submit the name, date and time of their baby Harland’s birth, along with their contact information here. (Black wire-rim glasses, white moustache and soul patch not required)
Daniel is an Art Director and Graphic Designer with over a decade of experience in advertising and marketing in the Greater Toronto Area.