- KFC has selected a relatively unknown actor, Christopher Boyer, to fill the shoes of its brand mascot Colonel Harland Sanders for a very particular reason, according to a company news release.
- Boyer will serve as the "Value Colonel" in a new campaign that emphasizes meals that "won't break the bank," such as the $5 Fill Up and pot pie menu items. In hiring the actor, KFC will save money compared to the celebrities and notables that usually portray Sanders, reflecting the promotion's focus on frugality. TV spots featuring Boyer will begin airing Dec. 28
- Boyer has previously appeared on TV in roles including "man in mattress store," "professor" and "old seasoned farmer." He also auditioned to play Sanders in 2015, the release said, when KFC resurrected the mascot as part of its advertising strategy. The push won't be celebrity-free, however: Wayne Knight — Newman to "Seinfeld" fans — will appear in the background of the spots.
KFC putting Sanders back at the center of its branding has proved a winning strategy, with a slew of actors, comedians and other notables stepping in to fill the role over the past two years. The company's business has rebounded in that time, with 13 quarters of same-store growth sales since Q3 2014, according to CNBC. The Value Colonel campaign breaks with a star-studded approach to marketing Sanders but in a way that gels with the broader messaging around delivering cheap but filling meals.
Value menu campaigns are nothing new for fast-food brands, but more in the category are attempting to put a creative spin on these types of promotions as consumers become tired of ads that are solely focused on deals and discounts. Taco Bell — a fellow company under the Yum Brands banner — recently introduced a "Belluminati" campaign for its dollar menu that depicts a not-so-secret society that consumers can gain access to for just a dollar.
Still, price promotions are becoming a contentious tactic for others in the quick-service space, as they often bolster short-term sales but don't necessarily deliver on long-term value. Subway's top marketing executive, Karlin Linhardt, earlier this week departed the brand after just eight months amid reports of a nationwide franchisee protest against an upcoming $4.99 footlong sandwich promotion that could hurt the company's already-struggling margins.