KFC is at it again. The fried chicken chain has yet another new Colonel Sanders. Actor and comedian Rob Riggle is the latest face of KFC in four TV commercials set to begin airing Thursday featuring a football focus.
The campaign kicks off just as the National Football League's season begins. KFC isn't an official restaurant sponsor, though. So instead of referring to the NFL in its marketing, it has come up with a mock professional team known as the Kentucky Buckets, complete with KFC bucket-style helmets, jerseys reminiscent of the colonel's suit and tie and socks in its signature red and white stripe.
In one of the commercials, Mr. Riggle describes the Kentucky Buckets as "a real team, and not just a marketing gimmick to get buckets of delicious chicken in front of football fans."
Of course, everyone knows it's a marketing gimmick. And it is one KFC might need. The Yum Brands chain's U.S. system sales were flat through the first two quarters of 2016 after rising 2% in 2015. The brand did get a bit of a social media boost last month when Donald Trump posted a photo of himself with a bucket of the "finger lickin' good" chicken along with a fork and knife.
Mr. Riggle is the latest in a string of people to play Colonel Sanders in KFC's campaigns from Wieden & Kennedy. Former "Saturday Night Live" cast member Darrell Hammond began portraying him in May 2015, followed by comedian Norm Macdonald starting in August 2015. Jim Gaffigan got the spot earlier this year. Now it's Mr. Riggle's turn, replacing Mr. Gaffigan. Along with that crew, Jimmy Johnson took a spin as the colonel in Fox Sports tie-ins in late 2015. And this June, actor George Hamilton began portraying the Extra Crispy Colonel to promote KFC's extra crispy chicken.
Along with the team theme, the latest spots promote the chain's $20 Fill Up bucket, now available with extra crispy chicken tenders.
The campaign also features social and digital content including a Tumblr devoted to Kentucky Buckets memorabilia.
KFC spent $218.8 million on measured media in 2015, down 12.3% from a year earlier, according to an Ad Age Datacenter analysis of measured-media data from WPP's Kantar Media.