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."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.
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.