how to re-invent your crappy american brand in asia

This is largely an excuse for me to post this weird-ass photo of a bunch of Asian kids (in "whiteface"?) dressed as KFC's Colonel Sanders... but this is a pretty interesting article about sagging American brands -- with not-so-great reputations here stateside -- that have smartly managed to reinvent themselves as elite and high-end luxury brands in Asia: Huge in Asia. For example, Kentucky Fried Chicken:
This fast-food giant's American franchises are commonly found in drab strip malls, where they dish out buckets of starchy, guilt-inducing Southern comfort food. In Asia, however, KFC stands for something far different. For emerging economies such as Vietnam, the restaurant is a harbinger of affluence: It's often the first international chain to set up shop, and it signals a country's arrival on the global consumer stage.

In formerly war-torn Cambodia, one of the latest frontier markets to welcome KFC, the restaurant's silk lamps, mod furniture, and plasma TV screens evoke boutique elegance, not fast-food functionality. A 15-piece bucket of chicken costs $16.50, nearly 10 times the daily per capita income. Exclusivity is the point: The country's tiny emerging middle class goes to KFC to see and be seen, and on most days the parking spaces outside are jammed with Lexuses and Range Rovers.
"Affluence," "elegance" and "exclusivity" are not words I'd ever use to describe Kentucky Fried Chicken. Nor can I understand how anyone could pay ten times the daily per capita income for a 15-piece bucket of fried chicken. But this is them miracle they've somehow pulled off in Southeast Asia.

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