KFC's newest celebrity colonel is perhaps its most difficult to recognize, thanks to a coating of gold that goes way beyond typical commercial makeup to emphasize its newest flavor, Georgia Gold Honey Mustard BBQ.
Actor Billy Zane dons the colonel's white suit, black tie and black shoes for KFC's newest limited-time flavor push. Otherwise, he appears to be completely gold. He walks through a gold office complete with a gold goldfish and chicken on a gold tray in the Wieden & Kennedy spot, set to air starting Sunday.
"Billy has this playful irreverence that he plays in characters on the big screen that we needed for this colonel's personality," KFC Chief Marketing Officer Kevin Hochman said of Mr. Zane, perhaps best known for his role in "Titanic."
KFC's Georgia Gold Chicken is the chicken chain's twist on regional mustard-based barbecue sauces, often served on pork in parts of Georgia and South Carolina. KFC also knows honey mustard and BBQ are hits with its fans. The chain's two most popular dipping sauces are BBQ and honey mustard, Mr. Hochman said Wednesday as he prepared for the product's launch party, fittingly being held at New York's GoldBar.
KFC, like many other fast feeders, leans on limited-time products to lure diners. In fact, the latest launch from KFC comes as Taco Bell, a sibling chain within Yum Brands Inc., will introduce the Naked Chicken Chalupa, its twist on fried chicken, Thursday.
Georgia Gold debuts at KFC Monday, Jan. 30, and will be out of restaurants on April 23, Mr. Hochman said. KFC is also bringing back last year's limited-time hit Nashville Hot variety during the same time.
"Nashville Hot did phenomenally well for us," Mr. Hochman said of the variety that was promoted by another celebrity colonel, Vincent Kartheiser.
Mr. Hochman's hopes are even brighter for Georgia Gold, which was tested in the Pittsburgh and Mobile, Ala., markets.
"It's not a spicy flavor, so it's more broadly appealing. Our expectations on sales are much higher than they were on Nashville Hot, and Nashville Hot did quite well for us," he said.
In fact, KFC's same-store sales rose 6% in the third quarter of 2016, the latest period shared with the public by parent Yum Brands Inc.
The Georgia Gold recipe at KFC goes well with chicken and also keeps the chicken crispy, Mr. Hochman said. The flavors are familiar but with enough of a twist that patrons will want to try it, Mr. Hochman said.
After Georgia Gold, KFC is planning a "huge" launch for the end of April with, of course, another new colonel.