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.
What's more, he is a real-life retired Colonel -- a first for the brand. A former Lt. Colonel in the United States Marine Corps Reserve, Riggle is the first actual colonel to take on the role of KFC's famous founder, Colonel Sanders. In what the brand calls "other striking biographical similarities," Riggle hails from Louisville, KY, the home of KFC since 1966.
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.
Read more about the campaign over at AdAge.com.