W+K Portland, KFC Have a New Colonel

By Erik Oster 

W+K Portland launched a new campaign for KFC, following up its summer campaign with Darrell Hammond as Colonel Sanders by crowning a new colonel.

Norm Macdonald plays Colonel Sanders in a series of new ads, claiming in “The Real Colonel Sanders” that Hammond’s character was an impostor. Macdonald ushers in the new campaign with a dismissal of Hammond’s character, which he sees on TV, claiming “I’m the real Colonel Sanders.” Things get even more meta in “Celebrity Colonel,” in which Macdonald’s character complains that “They can’t just grab some super-funny Hollywood actor. throw a white suit on him and try to pass him off as the real Colonel Sanders,” before once again claiming, rather unconvincingly, to be the real deal. Two 15-second spots promote the Family Fill Up Bucket for families and $5 Fill Ups for “young people” who get tired “after a long day of spontaneous road trips and breakdancing.”

So how does Macdonald’s portrayal compare to his predecessor? Well, for starters, he doesn’t really look anything like the colonel. While Hammond had the appearance down, there was something a bit creepy about his portrayal, which seemed to mix in a chuckle from his George W. Bush impression. W+K plays off of Macdonald’s lack of physical resemblance with the self-referential nature of the ads, with the typically self-aware Macdonald making it clear he and the audience are both in on the joke. Whether or not you find the self-aware advertising approach (which has been employed quite regularly of late) appealing will have a lot to do with whether or not you enjoy the former Weekend Update anchor’s portrayal.

“Other than not quite looking like him, his voice being different, and his inability to cook the world’s best chicken, we thought Norm was the perfect choice to play the Real Colonel. I think the fans will agree,” KFC U.S. chief marketing officer Kevin Hochman said in a statement.

“I was blown away when I learned that Colonel Sanders didn’t even start KFC until he was 65, Macdonald addwed. “That’s a whole lot of legend to fit into a couple decades, and it takes a strong work ethic, the kind you don’t see every day, to do it like he did. “He never gave up, never accepted less than the best and never held back an opinion. Plus he looks great in white.”

So the question now is, how long will W+K stick with Macdonald, and do they have another Saturday Night Live alum lined up as his successor?


Client: KFC

Agency: Wieden + Kennedy, Portland, Ore.
Creative Directors: Eric Baldwin / Karl Lieberman
Copywriter: Jon Marshall
Art Director: Helen Rhodes
Producer: Jennie Lindstrom / Endy Hedman
Social Strategy: John Dempsey
Strategic Planning: Britton Taylor / Lizzie Hanner / Matt Hisamoto
Media/Comms Planning: Alex Barwick
Account Team: Jess Monsey / Jesse Johnson / Andrie Wheeler
Business Affaires: Connery Obeng
Project Management: Chenney Gruber
Executive Creative Directors: Joe Staples / Mark Fitzloff
Head of Production: Ben Grylewicz

Production Company: Smith & Jones Films
Director: Ulf Johansson
Executive Producer: Philippa Smith
Line Producer: Justine Madero
Director of Photography: Andrejz Sekula

Editorial Company: Joint
Editor: Steve Sprinkel
Post Producer: Lauren Pullano
Post Executive Producer: Leslie Carthy

VFX Company: The Mill
VFX Supervisor: Phil Crowe
Flame Artist: John Shirley
VFX Producer: Anastasia von Rahl

Sound Company: Lime
Sound Designer : Michael Anastasi
Producer: Kelly Bayett

Mix Company: Lime
Mixer: Loren Silber
Producer: Susie Boyajan