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KFC’s Colonel Rebranding

Posted: Thursday September 17, 2015 • Category: Brands

Over the last few months, you may have noticed a change in Kentucky Fried Chicken’s advertising. In an effort to update the chicken chain’s image, they have ironically traveled back in time and resurrected the founder of the company, Colonel Sanders. This change comes from KFC’s new agency Wieden & Kennedy, which took over managing the brand’s creative account this past spring. In addition to the reincarnated spokesman across all media, the marketing blitz includes new menu items, store remodels, a revamped KFC.com, and a reinvented ColonelSanders.com

Saturday Night Live alum Darrell Hammond was chosen to play the role of the Colonel, but was replaced by another SNL alum, Norm Macdonald, after a few short months. Many thought it was because the chicken chain was disappointed with its spring campaign performance, but that’s far from the truth.  “We had tremendous buzz and our sales were better than what we had expected,” said KFC Chief Marketing Officer Kevin Hochmen. The switch in spokesmen had been part of the plan the whole time; in fact, it was part of Wieden & Kennedy’s initial pitch. One of the newer spots featured both Hammond and Macdonald, in which Macdonald states he is the REAL Colonel Sanders, which made for a seamless transition.

 
This campaign is making several nods to the past, and whether it’s the founder and his values, the ‘finger lickin’ good’ tagline, takes on old commercialslike the 1967 lie detector ad—or The Colonel’s Mandolin Band, they are leveraging these older assets for the new campaign, and doing so successfully, we might add. KFC saw a 3% increase in sales in the second quarter and Hochman is very pleased with the campaign.
 
Do you think harnessing the past will continue to work for this classic chicken chain? Or do you think reincarnating a respected brand icon could do the company harm? We’d love to hear from you! 
 
Now we’re craving fried chicken…
 

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