KFC Resurrects Colonel Sanders for Brand Revamp

Work From Wieden Includes Darrell Hammond as the Colonel

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Fast food chains can't seem to be getting enough of resurrecting dormant mascots.

First McDonald's brought back a slimmed-down Hamburglar for a limited-time promotion, and now KFC, which is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year, is bringing back Colonel Sanders, who has been dead for nearly 35 years. According to a spokeswoman, the Colonel -- or actors who played him -- hasn't appeared in ads since 1994, though an animated version of him ran until 1998. Consumers will see the new Colonel online, in social media, on broadcast and in stores as part of an effort to update the chain's image.

The brand refresh is the first major work from KFC's new agency, Wieden & Kennedy, which picked up the account earlier this year from FCB. The push includes a marketing blitz with the new Colonel played by "Saturday Night Live" alum Darrell Hammond, store remodels, new packaging, new menu items, a new KFC.com and a "reinvented" ColonelSanders.com, which gives the history of the Colonel in all his different iterations.

KFC had been struggling with sales recently, but has begun to see an uptick, reporting a 5% same-store sales increase outside of China. The chain, along with others in China, had been struggling amid various poultry concerns including the Avian flu.

KFC posted a message on Twitter this morning saying "The Colonel is back to make sure his Kentucky Fried Chicken is still delicious," accompanied by a video called "The State of Kentucky Fried Chicken Address."

TV ads for the campaign start May 25. "The spots will playfully explore the juxtaposition between the Colonel's heyday and modern culture," according to a press release.

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