LOUISVILLE, KY: KFC has signed Weber Shandwick as its new AOR. WS replaces Edelman, which walked away from the account earlier this fall (see PRWeek, October 18).
The contract carries an annual budget of $2.2 million to $2.5 million, according to a source familiar with the bid.
WS will handle the account from its New York and Chicago offices starting Wednesday.
KFC considered five agencies before selecting WS, said Bonnie Warschauer, KFC's director of PR. She wouldn't name the other agencies involved and declined to confirm the budget, except to say a Louisville business newspaper placing it between $500,000 and $1 million annually was incorrect.
"WS won it hands down," she said. "They understood our target. They were very strategic and amazingly creative."
WS joins another Interpublic agency on the account: Foote, Cone & Belding handles KFC's advertising.
KFC didn't set out to hire another Interpublic agency, but having a PR firm owned by the same holding company should facilitate synergies between the two, Warschauer said.
"Having all of our partners at one table is really exciting," said Warschauer, who planned to meet jointly with the agencies in Chicago before Thanksgiving.
While WS will be the company's national firm, local groups of KFC owners routinely pick their own firms for local projects.
KFC, once known as Kentucky Fried Chicken, is a subsidiary of Yum! Brands.
KFC has had a wide range of PR challenges in recent years, specifically dealing with health issues and protests from animal-rights groups, such as PETA. The parent company was recently in the news after pulling its sponsorship of ABC's controversial new hit program Desperate Housewives.