Blending virtual reality with real reality, KFC is using VR technology to teach its cooks how to make Original Recipe fried chicken in an entirely unique, hands-on and modern way. “The Hard Way—a KFC Virtual Training Escape Room” is designed as an escape room where Colonel Sanders gives his trainees hints and clues along the way to ensure they are making fried chicken the Hard Way—the way that he invented more than 70 years ago.
“In 1940 the Colonel was just one man frying chicken by hand. Now we have more than 19,000 trained cooks across the U.S., but they’re still doing it by hand,” says George Felix, KFC U.S. director of advertising. “Our cooking process hasn’t changed much in 70 years, but the way we train our cooks using modern technology sure has."
After successfully completing the five main steps—inspecting, rinsing, breading, racking and pressure frying—participants exit the secret training kitchen with an understanding of what it takes to cook Original Recipe chicken like a pro. Whereas in the real world it takes 25 minutes from start to service to make a batch of KFC’s Original Recipe chicken (just like at home), the game utilizes the magic of modern technology to provide a ten-minute, time-lapse glimpse into KFC’s comprehensive cooking process.
KFC will use the VR simulation to supplement its robust, multi-step employee-training program, called Chicken Mastery Certification, which provides detailed eLearning and hands-on training for cooks in each of KFC’s kitchens. KFC will provide yet another platform for training by bringing the VR simulation technology to its regional general manager training classes, quarterly franchise meetings, and employee onboarding. Incorporating playful design and game mechanics that make virtual reality so popular, such as the escape room concept, mini games, surprises and a meticulous Colonel who controls the entire experience, KFC’s VR tool is a fun and interactive add-on to the brand’s training program.
Instead of using virtual reality to teach team members how to do their job faster, KFC is using the technology to teach its cooks how to make its world-famous chicken better. It’s a gamified take on the Colonel’s proprietary, once-patented process for pressure-frying chicken, using his still-secret Original Recipe blend of 11 herbs and spices.
“The Hard Way—a KFC Virtual Training Escape Room” was developed in partnership with Wieden+Kennedy’s creative technology group, W+K Lodge, and designed for the Oculus platform utilizing the Rift headset and Touch controllers.
“What excites us is experimenting with new tools and mediums to tell stories. VR became an obvious choice to create an immersive experience that teaches trainees how to make KFC’s Original Recipe. The escape room concept builds on the pure training and utility of the experience into something that’s also entertaining and connected to KFC’s iconic founder," said Jonathan Minori, W+K Lodge design director.
Colonel Harland Sanders was the original entrepreneur, and today KFC lives out the spirit of innovation in its restaurants with menu development and in its marketing with engaging campaigns.