KFC customers in Germany were shocked on Wednesday to receive a push notification encouraging them to indulge in fried chicken on the eve of the 84th anniversary of Kristallnacht. “It’s memorial day for Kristallnacht! Treat yourself with more tender cheese on your crispy chicken,” read the message from the fast food company’s app, as translated to English. Note: in the original German, the notification used the phrase “Reich Pogrom Night,” which is currently the favored term, according to Vice News.
Kristallnacht, meaning “Night of Broken Glass,” was a violent, coordinated antisemetic attack targeting Jewish-owned businesses, buildings, and synagogues that took place Nov. 9-10, 1938. Nazis shattered windows, looted stores, set fire to houses of worship, and killed more than 90 people during the night. The event is widely considered the first pogrom of the Holocaust.
Obviously, the celebratory, tone-deaf corporate text was not the correct way to commemorate the solemn anniversary.
Shortly after the KFC notification was sent, people understandably responded with outrage, and the company was forced to issue an apology in a follow-up message: “Sorry, we made a mistake. Due to an error in our system, we sent an incorrect and inappropriate message through our app. We are very sorry, we will check our internal processes immediately so that this does not happen again. Please excuse this error,” the second message read, as translated to English.
The company further attributed its astounding blunder to an automated notification system. “We use a semi-automated content creation process linked to calendars that include national observances. In this instance, our internal review process was not properly followed, resulting in a non-approved notification being shared,” a KFC spokesperson said in a statement emailed to Gizmodo. Adding, “We have suspended app communications while we examine our current process to ensure such an issue does not occur again.”
So it seems the international fast food chain is blaming the gaffe on a bot. In it’s statement, the company apologized again and ended by saying, “We understand and respect the gravity and history of this day, and remain committed to equity, inclusion and belonging for all.”