My Finger-Lickin' Christmas: KFC Christmas in Japan

Koji Sado

Dec 24, 2023

Every year around December, I begin craving KFC. And it’s not Korean Fried Chicken. It’s the juicy, tender, wonderful harmony of the 11 secret spices known as Kentucky Fried Chicken.

Growing up in Japan from age 8 to 16, I lived in a country where people were open to new ideas to adopt Western cultures and practices, but with a twist. And one of these twists is a unique take on a traditional Christmas meal; people eat fried chicken, specifically KFC. This concept has become a festive phenomenon in Japan that captures the spirit of the season around the country. It began in the 1970’s when KFC launched a “Kentucky for Christmas!” marketing campaign that showed ads with families surrounding the big red and white bucket with a Christmas tree. The appeal of a Christmas feast that required no cooking or cleanup struck a chord with busy Japanese families. Over the years, the campaign's success grew, making KFC a staple part of Christmas celebrations. Today, the tradition has become so ingrained in Japanese culture that ordering a "Christmas Chicken Set" from KFC is as essential as decorating the tree.


KFC Japan Christmas Commercial

KFC's marketing strategy in Japan during the holiday season is pretty ingenious. The festive marketing campaigns feature the iconic Colonel Sanders donning a Santa suit, families making KFC a part of their Christmas tradition, and people out with friends partying with buckets in their arms.

KFC sanders.png

They keep the campaign interesting with a variety of promotions like limited-edition Christmas-themed buckets, collectible merchandise, and even collaborations with other popular brands to create limited-edition treats. These promotions not only keep the tradition fresh and exciting but also contribute to the overall festive experience for customers. It’s no surprise that KFC’s Christmas sales account for up to 40% of the company’s annual revenue.

KFC menu.jpg

The anticipation leading up to Christmas sees long lines forming outside KFC outlets, with customers eager to secure their special Christmas orders. The festive atmosphere created by KFC's marketing not only boosts sales but also adds a sense of joy and excitement to the holiday season.

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So that’s how they got me. The combination of delicious fried chicken, festive marketing, and enticing promotions have etched a deep emotional tie with KFC during Christmas. And don’t get me wrong, I’m happy with this as it brings back fond memories of spending time with friends and family, exchanging presents over chicken and cake. After reading this article, don't be surprised if you find yourself at a drive-thru nearby ordering a crispy golden KFC – it’s all part of the heartwarming finger lickin’ holiday magic.

Happy Holidays!

KFC Japan Website
KFC Japan Instagram