- To celebrate the 128th birthday of its founder Colonel Harland Sanders, KFC is giving a college donation to the first baby named Harland that's born on Sept. 9, Sanders' birthday, according to a press release.
- Parents can submit the baby's name and date and time of birth on a dedicated website, which will be live for 30 days. The baby's first name must be Harland to qualify. Entries will be vetted to ensure the winner was the first Harland born on Sept. 9, 2018. The winner will receive $11,000 for the baby's future college education, with the prize money reflecting KFC's 11 herbs and spices.
- The name Harland ranked No. 3,257 on the list of most common baby names for 2017, according to data from the U.S. Social Security Administration included in the release. KFC is hoping to inspire the next generation of Harlands.
The competition may seem like a joke, but it is the latest in a series of quirky marketing tactics that KFC has embraced around its Colonel Sanders mascot that appear to be resonating with consumers. KFC brought back the Colonel in 2015 as part of parent company Yum Brands' investments of $185 million to revitalize the brand, per The Drum. KFC reported a 2% increase in same-store sales for the most recent quarter, surpassing forecasts, and analysts have attributed some of that growth to KFC's marketing.
With old-fashioned baby names coming back into style, KFC is hoping to make Harland the next trendy pick. The fast-food brand is also planning to set up the next-generation Harland for success by contributing to his or her college fund. It remains to be seen if anyone actually names their baby Harland or how the contest will be received, but it will likely turn up some social media chatter. KFC could also be making a bleak, broader statement about the high cost of a college education and the growing issue of student debt.
Most recently, KFC released a video of its new Double Crispy Colonel, played by the current World's Strongest Man and "Game of Thrones" actor Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson, pulling a sled of chicken sandwiches weighing more than 700 pounds. Earlier this summer, the brand tapped actor Jason Alexander, of "Seinfeld" fame, as the Family Colonel in its marketing for the new Fill Up meals. The effort parodied '80s and '90s sitcoms.