KFC Is Spending $185M to Win You Back

Chain will bring back brand's 'greatest asset': the late Colonel Sanders
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted May 26, 2015 2:32 PM CDT

"There are few problems a bucket of fried chicken can't solve." That's one of the messages KFC management is banking on to rescue it from fast-food irrelevance, especially after losing major market share to rival Chick-fil-A, the Washington Post reports. The Yum Brands subsidiary is spitting out $185 million to reboot its business, which includes sprucing up some of its 4,300 stores, pushing new Deep South fare, and bringing back in TV ads what a press release calls the "brand's greatest asset": the ever-popular Colonel Sanders, who died in 1980 and hasn't been seen in a KFC ad in two decades. "The Colonel was the consummate American showman," KFC's marketing head tells the Post. "He was the person with bling before bling was even a word."

For now, KFC is bringing him back to life through SNL alum Darrell Hammond, who issued a "State of Kentucky Fried Chicken Address" as the colonel in a promo KFC tweeted out May 19. There's also what Adweek calls an "oddly educational" Hall of Colonels website and even a Colonel Quest video game. Response on social media has been … mixed. Comments range from excited ("@kfc Excellent tv spots! The Colonel is still an excellent spokesman!") to disgusted ("@kfc I find this extremely offensive to the memory of Colonel Sander I'm going to Popeyes") to flat-out frightened ("Get outta my timeline with your zombie Colonel selling fried death"). But will KFC be bowing to the healthy-eating trend that forced McDonald's to start testing kale in its offerings? Doesn't look that way, the Post notes, though the chain will be using chicken "traceability" boards in restaurants to say where local chicken came from. (More KFC stories.)

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