- To celebrate National Fried Chicken Day on July 6, KFC's Extra Crispy Colonel, played by the actor George Hamilton, will guest star on the ABC soap opera "General Hospital," according to news provided to Marketing Dive.
- Leading up to his appearance, the Extra Crispy Colonel has been tweeting about episodes of "General Hospital" on KFC's Twitter account, @KFC, to signal his fandom for the show.
- The Extra Crispy Colonel's appearance on the longest-running American soap opera, which has been on the air since 1963, is part of KFC's strategy to have the mascot and the brand show up in unexpected places, per the announcement.
The Colonel's cameo on "General Hospital" and his continued tweeting about the show on KFC's official account shows how more brands are embracing deeper TV product placements and content integrations, which are often seen as win-win for marketers and networks. The product placement market in the U.S. is projected to reach $10 billion in 2018, with the demand for higher-value brand integrations helping drive that growth, according to recent research by PQ Media.
The retailer Target has recently embraced a similar strategy, becoming a key part of the storyline in an episode of the NBC sitcom "Superstore" that aired in March. A real Target store served as the setting of the episode, which also featured its bull terrier mascot. The placement was part of Target's broader partnership with NBCUniversal. More seamless content integrations, where the brand is actually part of the narrative of the show, come as TV viewership continues to decline and patience for traditional 30- or even 60-second commercials grows thinner.
KFC often taps a rotating cast of actors and celebrities to portray Colonel Sanders, but Hamilton's Extra Crispy Colonel is the first iteration of the character that the brand has brought back for a different campaign. The Extra Crispy Colonel returned earlier this summer to help launch the restaurant chain's Crispy Colonel breaded chicken sandwich. For Memorial Day, KFC also ran a social media sweepstakes where followers could win a floatie in the likeness of the Colonel. The push featured a short video of Hamilton playing his extra-crispy character.