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Colonel Calling: Now There's a KFC Smartphone in China

By Published on .

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If the Colonel comes calling, who will answer?

For KFC's 30th anniversary in China, the chicken chain is celebrating by releasing a shiny, fire-engine red, limited edition smartphone with Colonel Sanders' face on it.

The fast food company partnered with Chinese electronics giant Huawei, which is also marking its 30th anniversary this year. Both brand logos are on the body, along with the date 1987, the year KFC entered China.

The fried chicken chain was one of the first big Western brands to enter the Chinese mainland, and it's still much bigger than McDonald's in China. It has tried to keep its image fresh by being digitally savvy, by accepting mobile payments, releasing smartphone games and opening a restaurant in Shanghai staffed by robots. In the most recent quarter, sales were up 4% at established KFC stores compared to a year earlier, the brand's parent company said this week.

The phone was announced by both brands at an event in China; news reports didn't say how much it would cost or where it would be sold. KFC has a shop on e-commerce giant Alibaba Group's TMall platform, where it already sells food deals that you can pick up in-store, so that might be a possible sales channel.

Ogilvy & Mather Shanghai has been working on KFC's 30th anniversary projects, and the agency shared news of the phone via its account on China's WeChat app. The device comes pre-loaded with KFC's Chinese app, and there's also a new music feature. People can use the app to pick songs they want to hear on the speakers at one of KFC's restaurants in China – it's kind of like a jukebox for the smartphone age. (See video above.)

China is very advanced in all things mobile, from digital payments to the all-purpose WeChat app, and Pepsi has also tapped into that. In 2015, the brand did a crowdfunding campaign to sell its own smartphones, dubbed Pepsi P1 and P1s.