KFC changes Colonels

KFC is striving to be more tongue-in-cheek in its new round of ads, replacing a Col. Harland Sanders lookalike with another mimic who looks and sounds even less like the chain’s founder and longtime icon.

Norm MacDonald is taking over the role from fellow “Saturday Night Live” alumnus Darrell Hammond. Unlike his predecessor, MacDonald does not go far in trying to mimic the Colonel’s distinctive Kentucky drawl. He’s also shown in such irreverent moments as standing in his underwear as he gets ready to choose a white suit from a closet containing nothing but white suits.

“Other than not quite looking like him, his voice being different, and his inability to cook the world’s best chicken, we thought Norm was the perfect choice to play the real Colonel,” Kevin Hochman, chief marketing officer of KFC’s domestic operations, said in a statement. “I think the fans will agree.”

MacDonald’s first spots promote a new value deal from the chicken chain, the $20 Family Fill Up. The bundled meal consists of eight pieces of chicken, two large sides of mashed potato and gravy, a large serving of cole slaw and four biscuits. The offer is an expanded version of the $5 Fill Up, which is aimed at an individual diner.

Hammond appeared as a sometimes confused Colonel Sanders in commercials that began airing in May. His voice was also used in social media campaigns.

KFC’s global comparable-store sales for the second quarter rose 3 percent year over year, but largely on the strength of the brand’s overseas performance. Domestically, systemwide sales grew by only 1 percent.

The resurrection of the Colonel is part of a revival of iconic restaurant-chain mascots. Almost simultaneous with the southerner’s reappearance, Burger King brought back its wooden-faced King character and McDonald’s updated its Hamburglar. 

Members help make our journalism possible. Become a Restaurant Business member today and unlock exclusive benefits, including unlimited access to all of our content. Sign up here.


Exclusive Content


Restaurants have a hot opportunity to improve their reputation as employers

Reality Check: New mandates for protecting workers from dangerous on-the-job heat are about to be dropped on restaurants and other employers. The industry could greatly help its labor plight by acting first.


Some McDonald's customers are doubling up on the discounts

The Bottom Line: In some markets, customers can get the fast-food chain's $5 value meal for $4. The situation illustrates a key rule in the restaurant business: Customers are savvy and will find loopholes.


Ignore the Red Lobster problem. Sale-leasebacks are not all that bad

The decade-old sale-leaseback at the seafood chain has raised questions about the practice. But experts say it remains a legitimate financing option for operators when done correctly.


More from our partners