Yum Brands Bad Publicity in China, Or Is It?

YumBrandsThe headline on the cover of the Marketplace section of this morning’s Wall Street Journal caught the eye, “Bad Publicity Dents Yum Brands.” Woah. Must be really bad for the other side to add that key word, “publicity,” in a call out.

Jumping into the story, I got 2/3 through still seeking any mention or indication of bad PR. The story is about how the brand and its KFC stores continues to bounce back after a government review of China poultry supplies, the outbreak of SARS, and a dye potentially linked to increase cancer risk.

What the Chinese consumer is being extra cautious about, however, is whether KFC poultry is tainted with more antibiotics than what’s permitted. Food safety, in the wake of tainted milk issues that plagued the country, has become a top-of-mind issue.

The headline on top of the story says, “China Woes Put Dent in Yum Brands.”


That’s more like it, copy desk. The call out header on the section cover implied that Yum Brands was really messing up in China with negative media coverage – after all, isn’t publicity defined by news coverage?

The story didn’t read that way at all. It told about a brand suffering from the natural ebbs and flows of economic issues and stressors that affect any business playing in the food industry.

I think the headline writer wanted to dig at we in public relations and earn a few more readers by using “publicity,” a rare word in a headline for a global daily newspaper the likes of the Wall Street Journal.




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