Popular fast-food chain Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) had to issue an apology after sending an alert message to consumers on its app which appeared to treat Germany’s Kristallnacht as a typical holiday.
Kristallnacht, or “the night of broken glass,” took place from November 9 to November 10 of 1938 when the Nazis persecuted Jewish people in Germany and other areas.
The homes, businesses, and synagogues of Jewish people were destroyed.
The Daily Wire notes that “Lots of synagogues burned during the night as local firefighters watched instead of putting them out because they had been told to only get involved to stop the fire from spreading to other structures. Jewish cemeteries were also desecrated in many areas.”
Germany obviously does not celebrate the night as a typical holiday, instead treating it as a memorial. This year marks the 84th anniversary of the tragedy.
Nonetheless, KFC sent out a message to its customers that appeared to treat it as if it was a regular holiday.
“Commemorate Kristallnacht – treat yourself to more soft cheese and crispy chicken. Now at KFCheese!” the message read.
The company received swift backlash for the message — not just from German customers, but from across the globe — and rushed to apologize.
About an hour later, KFC sent out an additional alert.
“We are very sorry, we will check our internal processes immediately so that this does not happen again. Please excuse this error,” the message read, according to the Bild newspaper via BBC.
Bild referred to the error as “tasteless,” calling it “fast-food advertising at the cost of the remembrance of the victims of the Nazi regime.”
According to CNN Business, KFC explained the offending message by stating that it uses 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.”
The company went on to say that it “sincerely” apologized for the “unplanned, insensitive and unacceptable message” and added that app communications were being paused while an investigation was initiated into them.
“Earlier today an automated push notification was accidentally [SIC] issued to KFC app users in Germany that contained an obviously unplanned, insensitive, and unacceptable message,” KFC Germany said in a statement via CNN Business. “We understand and respect the gravity and history of this day, and remain committed to equity, inclusion, and belonging for all.”
Daniel Sugarman, Director of Public Affairs at the Board of Deputies of British Jews responded to the original KFC alert, calling it “absolutely hideous.”
Dalia Grinfeld, of the Jewish NGO Anti-Defamation League, tweeted about the incident, writing: “How wrong can you get on Kristallnacht KFC Germany. Shame on you!”
Newsweek contributor Joel Petlin called out KFC for allowing “a machine” to control the messaging for the company, which caused the problem.
“When you let a machine run social media for your company, you get a promo for celebrating Kristallnacht (the start of the Holocaust), with some crispy chicken. You can’t fire a bot, but someone at @kfc has to be responsible for this sickening mistake,” Petlin wrote.
When you let a machine run social media for your company, you get a promo for celebrating Kristallnacht (the start of the Holocaust), with some crispy chicken.
— Joel M. Petlin (@Joelmpetlin) November 10, 2022