From April 7-9, shoppers can get a discounted meal for two at selected KFC stores and can enter a prize draw for limited-edition stickers by registering on KFC’s app. A-SOUL promoted the collaboration via the microblogging site Weibo in an announcement video, encouraging fans to buy the selected discounted combos and participate online via hashtags. According to the group’s official weekly schedule of online events, KFC will also join a livestream in one of the band members’ live chatrooms on April 14.
Virtual idols are online entertainers that perform under the guise of digital avatars, which often take the form of manga-style characters. They perform and interact with fans via YouTube, Twitch, Douyin, and Bilibili. The identities of the real human performers behind virtual idols are protected, with fans forming para-social relationships with the virtual characters.
As a Chinese-produced virtual idol group, A-SOUL operates primarily via BiliBili, where they currently have 300,000 subscribers. The group debuted in 2020 initially to great success but has since been mired in controversy over the departure of one of the band’s members, Carol. After leaving the band in 2022, the actor who performs Carol posted online alleging that she had experienced abuse under YueHua’s management, causing huge backlash among virtual idol fans.
The collaboration with KFC still managed to generated engagement online, with the Weibo hashtag gaining over 3 million views so far. However, netizens seemed largely unimpressed with the promotion, complaining that limited edition stickers would not motivate them to travel to selected stores. The fast food giant may be testing the waters in the wake of A-SOUL’s controversy, with plans for a bigger collaboration potentially teed up for the future.