Actor's Statement Does Not Address Animal Rights Imbroglio

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CHICAGO (AdAge.com) -- KFC said it has dropped Jason Alexander as company pitchman and is preparing to launch new creative in August.
Jason Alexander and Annika Sorenstam in a new KFC ad.
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"Over the last two years Jason Alexander helped us focus on KFC's quality and differentiate the brand from other fast-food options," said a spokeswoman reading a statement to Adage.com. "This advertising campaign has run its course, so we've asked BBDO, our advertising agency, to develop a new creative approach." She would not comment beyond the statement.

Continuing negotiations
Last month, the company was negotiating with the actor's representatives to extend his contract by six months. At the time, Mr. Alexander's lawyer confirmed that nothing had yet been signed, but he expressed confidence the extension would go through.

Also last month, the animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals claimed Mr. Alexander had helped set up meetings between KFC and PETA after the group threatened to boycott the Los Angeles opening of the musical The Producers, of which Mr. Alexander is a star.

When asked whether Mr. Alexander's affiliation with PETA led to the split, the KFC spokesman referred calls to Mr. Alexander, who issued his own statement.

Actor's statement
"I have done commercials since I was a child and fully understand that two years is an enormous success for an on-air representative and a company. KFC has been a wonderful company with which to work," he said. "Their generosity, graciousness and good humor has been greatly appreciated. I have thoroughly enjoyed the experience and their fine product, and I wish them continued success in the future."

The statement did not address PETA or any reasons for the split.

PETA's claim
PETA President Ingrid Newkirk told Adage.com that her organization "recruited" Mr. Alexander and that the actor said that "if he continued as a spokesman for KFC that he would advocate our eight-point plan [for animal welfare guidelines]."

BBDO, an Omnicom Group agency, referred calls to KFC.

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