- KFC has unveiled the latest iteration of its brand mascot, the Colonel Bear, in promotion of a new Hot Honey fried chicken menu offering, a press release announced.
- The animated Colonel Bear takes the form of a bear-shaped honey bottle wearing a white suit and glasses and sporting a goatee like the human Sanders. Colonel Bear appears in a series of new spots, including one where the figurine disrupts an important talk between parents and their son.
- Fans can enter for a chance to win a vintage-inspired, pull-string talking Colonel Bear figurine online by submitting their email address and agreeing to terms and conditions at a special website. "Wow, that marketing video worked?," copy on the landing page reads. "You really want to adopt a tiny plastic bear with prerecorded sayings? Okay, then!"
KFC is riffing on the idea of bear-shaped honey bottles, which have been used by brands like Dutch Gold for decades and are a staple of many household dining room tables. By tying the Colonel Bear to vintage packaging, KFC can play into consumers' fondness for nostalgia in marketing, which particularly resonates with millennials. The new sweet and spicy flavor, which KFC calls "the next Sriracha," could additionally connect with the high-spending age segment, who show preference for spicy foods.
Giving fans the chance to win their own talking Colonel Bear is one way KFC can acquire email addresses, which are a means to share new promotions and tailored offers with fans and followers. The strategy fits in-line with other oddball merchandise the company has introduced as part of its marketing.
KFC for Memorial Day this year gave away floaties in the likeness of Colonel Sanders via the image-sharing app Snapchat, which is popular with Gen Zers and millennials. The chain also sells merchandise on an e-commerce website, including a line of holiday-themed gear last year that included fried chicken-themed pillows, apparel, wrapping paper and more.
The Colonel Bear is the latest in a slew of takes on Sanders that KFC has released over the past few months. Recently, the brand tapped the World's Strongest Man and actor Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson ("Game of Thrones") for the launch of the Double Crispy Colonel sandwich. KFC is also currently featuring "Seinfeld" star Jason Alexander as the Family Colonel in a '80s and '90s sitcom-inspired campaign touting its Fill Up meals targeted at families.
KFC resurrected Sanders as its brand mascot in 2015, and consumers have been responding positively. The fast food chain had a 2% increase in same-store sales growth for the most recent quarter, surpassing Wall Street's expectations. Analysts have linked KFC's success in part to its marketing, which has helped to keep the attention of younger consumers.