Marketing

KFC’s new colonel is … who?

The chicken chain goes with an unknown actor as its new colonel to “save money" for a new value offer.
KFC

KFC on Wednesday revealed its newest colonel: the actor Christopher Boyer.

If Boyer is unfamiliar to you, that’s understandable, because he is a relative unknown, chosen deliberately by the Louisville, Ky.-based chicken chain as part of its newest value campaign.

Boyer will be known as the “Value Colonel” and will sell the chain’s $3.99 pot pies, starting Dec. 26, and various combinations of KFC’s popular $5 Fill Up boxes.

Hiring a relative unknown such as Boyer is a marked shift for the chain, which started its campaign with revolving colonels in 2015 by hiring "Saturday Night Live" alum Darrell Hammond. The chain has since hired the likes of Norm Macdonald, George Hamilton, Rob Lowe, Billy Zane and Rob Riggle, among others.

The idea in hiring Boyer—a Maryland native who at one point owned his own chicken restaurant—was to “save money” for the value campaign, “allowing the brand to continue to offer complete meals that won’t break the bank.”

Boyer has played a series of background roles with titles like “man in mattress store,” “professor” and “old, seasoned farmer.”

Boyer actually auditioned for the role of Sanders in 2015 when KFC started casting for its campaign.

“Much like the colonel, he had a lot of forgettable roles before becoming the world’s most famous chicken salesman,” George Felix, KFC’s U.S. director of advertising, said in a statement. He insisted that “we didn’t remember him” when Boyer auditioned as colonel.

KFC’s colonel campaign has been instrumental in the chain’s improved sales in recent years. The chain’s same-store sales have increased for 13 straight quarters, and KFC’s $5 Fill Up box has pushed competitors to respond with their own deals. Rival Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, for instance, has seen same-store sales decline in each of the past three quarters.

KFC’s new value push, meanwhile, comes as many quick-service chains are preparing their own deals for the new year. That includes McDonald’s, which is planning to start selling items at $1, $2 and $3 beginning Jan. 4, and Subway, which is planning a $4.99 Footlong offer—though that is running into opposition from the chain’s operators.

While its newest ad features Boyer in the title role, it is not without some celebrity. Wayne Knight, who played Newman on the long-running show "Seinfeld," makes an appearance in the ad.

The newest ads start running Dec. 28.

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