KFC has welcomed a very sunkissed George Hamilton to the ranks of its Colonel Sanders actors.
Mr. Hamilton, who will star in four new nationally-aired TV spots, is specifically the Extra Crispy Colonel, promoting the chain's Extra Crispy chicken, making him KFC's first product-specific Colonel.
According to KFC Chief Marketing Officer Kevin Hochman, Mr. Hamilton is a "natural fit" for the role -- and not just because he's a little fried by the sun. The "Love at First Bite" actor has a certain "panache" about him, said Mr. Hochman. "The Extra Crispy lifestyle is about living life with a little more panache," he said.
Colonel Harland Sanders, the founder of what was originally Kentucky Fried Chicken, is said to have lived several lives before becoming the world's most successful chicken salesman. With resume lines ranging from sixth grade dropout to steamboat operator to gas station owner, Mr. Hochman said the original Colonel's willingness to "do it the hard way" is what keeps the iconic colonel relevant today.
Several actors have played the role of Colonel Sanders since its reintroduction last year with former "Saturday Night Live" cast member Darrell Hammond. Mr. Hochman said KFC and its agency Wieden & Kennedy choose Colonels based on specific goals they have for the brand and the campaign at the time. Comedian Norm Macdonald's time in the white suit, for example, was meant as a kind of self-reflective joke in which KFC was "essentially making fun of [itself] for bringing back the Colonel," he said.
Mr. Hamilton's part as a product-specific Colonel means Jim Gaffigan, the incumbent since earlier this year, will stay on as the more general Colonel Sanders and will continue to promote the company's $5 Fill Up product.
"The idea of bringing back the Colonel is not just about bringing back the core [audience], but how we can express those values again in a way that makes them relevant to young people," Mr. Hochman said.
Extra Crispy chicken has remained the second-best selling item on KFC's menu, behind the Original Recipe and ahead of Grilled, despite a lack of marketing for the past eight years, according to Mr. Hochman.