KFC Canada picks John St. as new AOR

The agency takes over all elements of the QSR's creative, ending a nine-year relationship with Grip.


After nine years, KFC has a new agency in the Canadian market, selecting John St. as its new agency of record.

As creative AOR, John St. will handle creative and campaign strategy across all platforms. The agency will begin work on the account on Sept. 1.

Samantha Redman, CMO at KFC Canada, told strategy that the business is worth roughly $7 million.

John St. was selected following a review process that began earlier this year. KFC Canada worked with corporate and marketing consultancy Listenmore on the search process, which included three agencies at the finalist stage.

Redman says a major factor in John St. being selected was its track record “in transforming big retail brands from top to bottom.” Some of the retail brands on John St.’s roster are Home Hardware, Boston Pizza and Loblaw (including banners like Shoppers Drug Mart and No Frills).

KFC spent the past nine years working with Grip as its AOR in Canada, which Redman says was invited to participate in the pitch process. She described Grip as “a first-rate agency” that “played a key role in re-establishing the KFC brand in Canada.”

In recent years, Grip’s work has included social-friendly executions that played off of the more recognizable elements of the brand, such as turning its bucket into a camera or selling it for bitcoin, creating a “twosie” replicating the image of Colonel Sanders that was later spun out into a branded merch store and digital videos that educated customers about how it sources and prepares its chicken. While the digital work has taken a tongue-in-cheek approach to building the KFC brand – especially with millennial customers – recent TV work has been focused on driving more strategic goals, such as promoting smaller meal sizes, value-focused offers, on-trend products and its delivery options.

Grip still works with KFC parent company Yum Brands on the Taco Bell Canada account.

KFC Canada continues to work with Wavemaker on media and Edelman on PR and influencer work.