You might call him the Southern Santa.
In four new holiday videos from KFC, Colonel Sanders spends most of his screen time stuck in a home's chimney … while trying to deliver presents.
The Wieden + Kennedy spots continue comedian Norm McDonald's run of quirky ads as KFC's founder. That role has seen him host "Fryerside Chats" in pseudo-homage to FDR, do a bad impression of a college student and ride a giant chicken on a merry-go-round.
In the Christmas campaign's first ad, "Entrance," his inept beneficence finds him trapped in a fireplace with a tray of fried chicken (which, along with his arms, he was somehow able to squeeze past his firmly lodged torso—quite the anatomical feat).
In another spot, he declares that his predicament—the same one from earlier—won't stop him from delivering his deep-fried treasures.
The third commercial, an out-of-key rendition of "12 Days of Christmas" with the lyrics adapted to praise a value meal, doesn't add enough freshness to a tedious song to make it worth the effort—but at least it's mercifully short.
The best of the bunch by far is "Gifts," in which a family gathered around the Christmas tree takes the weight off Sanders' shoulders—at least as far as keeping viewers entertained. All the presents, which might have looked like bicycles, dogs or puppies while wrapped, turn out to be KFC meals (surprise!).
That visual gag is plenty rewarding. But it's especially charming that the ad manages to poke fun at Christmas tropes while delivering a hard sell—forget the elaborate gifts, it suggests, just get some fast food and make everyone happier. That's an absurd premise delivered with enough forced cheer to make the pieces feel like a solid sendup: Dad, for his part, pulls faces that make him resemble a cross between Enzyte's infamous Smiling Bob and a gopher in an ugly Christmas sweater. All the while, the Colonel's feet dangle quietly in the backdrop.
As for the overall concept, the Santa-Sanders resemblance is close enough to pass muster at first blush—pudgy old white guys with white beards and white hair. But here's a weird-but-true fact: In Japan, the two are practically already synonymous: People there religiously eat KFC on Dec. 25, a tradition the company surely wouldn't mind porting to the U.S.
Agency: Wieden + Kennedy, Portland, Ore.
Creative Directors: Eric Baldwin / Karl Lieberman
Copywriter: Jonathan Marshall
Art Director: Helen Rhodes
Producer: Hayley Goggin Avila
Social Strategy: John Dempsey
Strategic Planning: Britton Taylor / Matt Hisamoto
Media, Communications Planning: Alex Barwick / Anjali Patel
Account Team: Jess Monsey / Jesse Johnson / Andrie Wheeler
Business Affairs: Karen Roche
Project Management: Erin Keeley
Executive Creative Directors: Joe Staples / Mark Fitzloff
Head of Production: Ben Grylewicz
Production Company: Biscuit
Director: Matt Dillmore
Executive Producer: Colleen O'Donnell
Sales Representative: Dana Balkin
Line Producer: Carr Donald
Director of Photography: Darko Suvak
Editing Company: Joint Editorial
Editor: Steve Sprinkle
Assistant Editor: J.B. Jacobs
Post Producer: Chris Girard
Executive Post Producer: Leslie Carthy
Visual Effects Company: Joint
Visual Effects Executive Producer: Alex Thiesen
Lead Flame Artist: Stephan Lectez
Visual Effects Producer: Steve Griffith
Lead Flame Artist: Katrina Salicrup
2-D Artists: David Jahns / Robert Murdock / Noah Poole
Mix, Sound Company: Joint
Mixer, Sound Designer: Noah Woodburn
Producer: Sarah Fink
Telecine Company: The Mill
Color Producers: Dan Kreeger / Dan Butler
Colorist: David "Luddy" Ludlam