- For the launch of its Crispy Colonel breaded chicken sandwich, KFC is bringing back "famously sun-crisped" actor George Hamilton to fill the role of the Extra Crispy Colonel, a news release announced.
- The campaign includes a 30-second spot with Hamilton sailing on a yacht, called The K.F.Sea, with the portable Crispy Colonel sandwich in one hand. With his other hand free, he can enjoy an array of "extra crispy lifestyle" activities, like snapping or "'gramming'" photos, steering the yacht, sipping a beachy beverage or rubbing on Extra Crispy fried chicken-scented sunscreen.
- The Crispy Colonel hits stores today, April 23. The sandwich is available with KFC's original recipe chicken, as well as in three Southern-inspired flavors: Smoky Mountain BBQ, spicy and smoky Nashville Hot and sweet and tangy Georgia Gold honey mustard BBQ. KFC said it plans to announce a fourth, limited-edition flavor this summer.
With its Crispy Colonel promotion, KFC is both trying to rib today's smartphone- and social media-addled consumers — who can snap selfies for Instagram and hold the sandwich in the other hand — while also positioning itself as a quick bite that accommodates this increasingly common on-the-go lifestyle. Pulling Hamilton in to reprise his role as Colonel Sanders plays into this creative angle, with the actor noting in a statement that he's "extra mobile" now thanks to the menu addition.
KFC has, in recent years, developed a devoted following for its brand mascot by swapping out actors, celebrities and everyday people to portray the character. Hamilton first appeared in the brand's advertising two years ago to hawk its fried chicken-scented sunscreen. KFC references the goof product in its latest spot, which points to the type of running brand lore that keeps viewers invested over the long-term. The new campaign also follows popular recent iterations of the Colonel by country music star Reba McEntire, the first woman to play the character, and the largely unknown Christopher Boyer as an everyday "Value Colonel" touting the fast-food chain's more affordable meals.
Sanders returning to the center of KFC's branding strategy in 2015 has translated to business success as well. The restaurant chain saw better than expected sales growth last year, with a 4% overall sales growth for Q3 2017, per Reuters. In December, KFC also brought in Andrea Zahumensky, a veteran of Procter & Gamble, as CMO, and it will be interesting watch how the brand's marketing strategy continues to evolve this year under her stewardship.