KFC’s Newest Colonel Is … Pete Campbell?!

By Erik Oster 

W+K Portland is celebrating the return of Nashville Hot Chicken to KFC’s menu with the introduction of yet another Colonel Sanders, in this case the Nashville Hot Colonel, as portrayed by actor Vincent Kartheiser (best known for his role as Pete Campbell on Mad Men).

Kartheiser doesn’t actually appear in the “Nashville Secret,” however, save for his image on a record by the Nashville Colonel. A young girl spins the Nashville Colonel’s album as she eats a basket of the spicy chicken tenders and fawns over the his image on the cover.

It’s all an obvious parallel to the teenage rebellion of early rock and roll, right down to an angry parent calling it blasphemous. While the approach is undeniably goofy, it does at least take the brand in a slightly different direction. The kitschy references to early rock and roll, and pure ridiculousness of a Nashville Colonel record, are somewhat unpredictable for a brand that’s become all too easy to predict. And the same goes for the new choice of Colonel—say what you will, but we doubt many saw this one coming.

“Nashville Secret” comes hot on the heels of W+K introducing Rob Riggle as the chain’s new colonel. But ‘s role doesn’t mean the end for Riggle, as he appears to be solely be tackling the Nashville Colonel, much like W+K looked to George Hamilton as the Extra Crispy Colonel. So don’t be surprised to see other specialty colonels in the future, to go along with revolving cast portraying the main role. Following Hamilton, Kartheiser’s selection shows that W+K and KFC seem more willing to step out of their comedian comfort zone for these side colonel roles.

“Like KFC’s Nashville Hot Chicken, I’m a bit of a rebel decked out in authentic Nashville flavor—a perfect combination of classic and cool,” Kartheiser said in what AdFreak characterized as a “groan-inducing statement.” (We agree.)

The fast food chain explained that Kartheiser filled out the requirement for a “a young actor with lots of hair and flair,” adding, “Vincent’s vintage good looks and piercing blue eyes made him perfect for the role.”

More of those piercing blues below.