KFC has always been a vibrant part of local communities across China since 1987! Their success is accredited to its ability to immerse itself into the very community where they thrive.
This is evident in 1980’s Shanghai, specifically on Huating Road.
In 1984, Huating Road Clothes Market blossomed as the birthplace of Shanghai’s fashion scene. At the height of its popularity, it housed more than 400 stalls along its 732-meter long street, with foot traffic of 150 people per minute. Huating Road, together with Silk Market in Beijing and Gaodi Street in Guangzhou were then named the “Three Clothing Streets of China”. In the thick of this bustling scene was KFC.
KFC continued serving delicious chicken to the local Huating Road neighborhood even in the midst of tighter local enforcement on fabric goods, which resulted in gradual closures of the once bustling retail businesses along Huating Road.
Fast forward to present day, KFC’s parent company, YUM! Brands China has embarked on a journey to revive Huating Road’s historical significance by bringing awareness back to the much loved market which had helped bring communities together and improved the livelihood of many locals. To realize this endeavor, YUM! Brands China invited Shanghai based artists, The Great Indoors, Kevin Lunsong and Sam Chong to illustrate a wall mural depicting a panoramic scene of the once famous Huating Road Clothes Market.
“For many weeks, we buried ourselves in researching old photos and blogs of the clothes market. It was important to us to recreate the scene as truthfully as possible despite lacking comprehensive documentation,” said Kevin. “Illustration became the best archiving method, especially when it allows us to highlight the hustle and bustle of the market.”
Kevin explains further, “The styling is a thick line-work, stripped down to basic shades, so that the body expression would be the focal point of visual storytelling.” Numerous key characters were anchored in a panoramic framework during the early planning stage, which was later superimposed onto physical site to test the layout feasibility. This was followed by the actual mural painting which spanned across three days, totaling up to 36 hours.
“The labor was intense during the initial stage as we had to measure and scale the illustration within the physical space. And like most painting, each stroke required patience and concentration, which came really hard during the wee hours,” admitted Kevin.
“Oh, the color shading on the illustrations could have been easily overlooked, but we made sure we’ve carefully studied what were the appropriate fabric patterns of 1980’s. That took us to the streets, chatting up with the local merchants,” quipped Sam.
This project is a testament to KFC’s promise to regenerate local communities through its thoughtfully designed and restored restaurants richly influenced by the local social and cultural history.