BERLIN — KFC has apologized for accidentally sending an automated push alert to its app users in Germany that appeared to urge people to order food to commemorate the 84th anniversary of Kristallnacht — the “Night of Broken Glass” — when Nazis terrorized Jews throughout Germany and Austria.
The company faced an outcry for the alert that went out Wednesday at a time when Jewish groups are warning of rising antisemitism. According to screenshots shared online, the app alert said, “Memorial day for the Reich pogrom night. Treat yourself to more tender cheese on your crispy chicken. Now at KFCheese!”
KFC Germany said the notification was an “unplanned, insensitive and unacceptable message and for this we sincerely apologize.”
“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,” the company said in a statement Thursday.
The chicken chain says it’s halted app communications and is reviewing its policies to avoid similar notifications in the future, adding that “we understand and respect the gravity and history of this day, and remain committed to equity, inclusion and belonging for all.”
The notification led to outcry from Jewish groups, with Dalia Grinfeld, associate director of European affairs at the Anti-Defamation League, tweeting in German: “How wrong can you get on Reich pogrom night, @KFCDeutschland (@kfc)?! Shame on you!”
The alert came on the anniversary of Nov. 9, 1938, when the Nazis, among them many ordinary Germans, killed at least 91 people and vandalized 7,500 Jewish businesses during Kristallnacht pogroms across Germany and Austria. They also burned more than 1,400 synagogues, according to Israel’s Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial. In Germany, the event is more commonly known as Reich pogrom night.
To mark the day, Holocaust survivors from around the world warned about the reemergence of antisemitism in a campaign called #ItStartedWithWords. Jewish groups say attacks and incidents of bias and hate speech have been rising.
Brands have recently cut ties with celebrities over antisemitic comments, including German sportswear company Adidas and others with the rapper formerly known as Kanye West and Nike with NBA player Kyrie Irving.