Who’s kota is it anyway? Entrepreneur takes on KFC over ‘Sphatlo’ idea
‘I want them to acknowledge I came up with the idea’
KFC has lashed out at an entrepreneur who accused the company of stealing his chicken kota “idea”, saying it was not a secret that kota is a famous South African dish.
Romeo Malepe of Sharpeville in the Vaal, took to social media this week to blast the American fast-food chain for allegedly stealing the brainchild he developed four years ago after making a presentation to brand managing company Yum! at their offices in Bryanston, Johannesburg.
The chain is launching its (Sphatlho) kota at limited pop-up shops in Gauteng.
KFC said: “We are aware of the posts by Mr Malepe circulating on social media and refute these claims. It is no secret that kota is a famous South African meal and the limited-edition KFC Sphatlho is a result of an internal product development process.
“For more than 50 years KFC has been inspired by the South African heritage and culture and has regularly brought local innovation like the Streetwise Chow, Masala Crunch and Mrs Ball’s Chutney burger to our menu. We will continue to use South African food trends as inspiration to bring relevant products to our fans across South Africa.”
Malepe told Sowetan that his idea for a Streetwise Kota was stolen while looking for a partnership with the chain.
“I did my research and realised KFC in other parts of the world feature that country’s popular food in its menu. I looked at their menu in India and Russia. Because I wanted them to partner with me, I created a kota concept that features chicken.
“I got a team of photographers and creatives together. With my advertising background, we created this concept that included merchandise like sneakers and T-shirts. We consulted Yum!, a KFC holding company in Bryanston.
“We met the brand manager, but our plan was to meet the big bosses who can buy into the idea. The manager kept wanting us to meet her instead of the bosses.
“So, I started a Facebook page for Streetwise Kota. It went viral and people began demanding the Streetwise Kota at KFC outlets. “In the same year, I received a lawyers’ letter that I must take down the page and delete the pictures.”
Malepe, who was already selling the Streetwise Kota at kota festivals, had to change the name to Kota Culture.
“When I got a letter from their lawyers, I realised there was no chance of us getting into a partnership. My heart is bleeding after seeing their adverts.
“I just want them to acknowledge I came up with the idea. Since they are using it already, they can buy it officially. I cannot take on these guys. They are big.”
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