KFC intros Jason Alexander as the 'Family Colonel' in surreal sitcom parody
- KFC has tapped actor, comedian and director Jason Alexander, perhaps best known for his role as George Costanza on the sitcom "Seinfeld," for its latest iteration of Colonel Sanders, per a news release.
- Alexander serves as the "Family Colonel" to promote the chain's $20 Fill Up meals, which are available in four different meal varieties. The campaign includes a series of videos running across TV and digital platforms, including a 60-second spot titled "What's for Dinner?," which parody the style of sitcoms from the '80s and '90s.
- The tone of the videos goes from cheery to vaguely creepy as Alexander takes over different archetypal roles on the fictional show, like the mother, father, neighbor and eventually the family couch.
With the casting of Alexander and overarching sitcom theme of the campaign, KFC is clearly trying to tap into consumers' nostalgia for pop culture ephemera from the '80s and '90s — eras when key age segments like millennials grew up and ones they are particularly fond of.
The latest creative also builds on KFC's catalog of leveraging weird internet humor. The videos in some ways recall "Too Many Cooks," an absurdist parody of vintage sitcom intros that was created by Carton Network's Adult Swim unit and went viral in 2014. Like "Too Many Cooks," "What's for Dinner?" starts off fairly normal but increasingly takes on a surreal, even ominous tone.
KFC's oddball marketing, which has in recent years featured a variety of iterations of the Colonel and offerings like fried chicken-themed merchandise, has helped the brand win back the attention of younger consumers, who had previously started to drift more toward competitor brands, James Quinlan, foodservice analyst at the firm GlobalData, said in emailed comments provided to Marketing Dive.
The revamping of the fast-food chain's marketing strategy, which began with the reintroduction of the Colonel as a mascot in 2015, has helped bolster both KFC and parent company Yum Brand's business. KFC saw same-store sales grow 2% year-over-year in Q2 figures reported last week.
‘"KFC accounted for 54% of Yum! Brands revenue in Q2 of 2018," Quinlan said. "Despite occasional hiccups in established markets, clever marketing and the chain's well established product offering continue to resonate with QSR consumers."
Other recent campaigns by KFC include the return of George Hamilton's Extra Crispy Colonel, the first Colonel the brand has brought back for a second time. Hamilton's version of the character has helped the company launch a new line of fried chicken sandwiches, supported its Memorial Day promotions and recently made a cameo on the long-running soap opera "General Hospital."