First Female Celebrity Colonel Sanders, Reba McEntire, Sings a Honky-Tonk Song in New KFC Spot

The ad promotes the chain's Smoky Mountain BBQ flavor

Reba McEntire stars as Colonel Sanders in the 60-second spot. KFC
Headshot of Kristina Monllos

KFC has a new celebrity wearing Colonel Sanders’ signature white suit and goatee—Reba McEntire, who stars in a new 60-second spot promoting the fried-chicken chain’s new Smoky Mountain BBQ flavor.

A 30-second version of the ad from Wieden + Kennedy in Portland will air during Sunday’s Grammy Awards broadcast on CBS. McEntire replaces the noncelebrity Colonel Sanders.

“[The creative team] wrote everything, the script and the music,” McEntire told Adweek. “I thought they did a wonderful job on it all. We had fun with it. I’d go in and sing it my way and they’d laugh and say for me to do it this way, and we’d all laugh.”

McEntire said she was “spellbound” in December when she was asked to be the first woman and first musician Colonel Sanders and that she enjoyed the way she was able to “portray what I do for a living as the Colonel.”

“With Reba’s southern roots and entrepreneurial spirit, she truly embodies the values of the Colonel and the crowd-pleasing flavor of our Smoky Mountain BBQ,” said Andrea Zahumensky, CMO, KFC U.S., in a statement.

The new flavor will be available at participating KFC locations on Jan. 29.

McEntire said it was hard at first to sing while wearing the costume, goatee and mustache.

“It took a while to get used to it because when they put it on me, it was glued on my upper lip, and then when you smile, that stretches out,” she said. “So we kept gluing it back on.”

She continued: “I got a big kick out of the transformation and wearing the wig. The hardest part was when they said to me, ‘We want you to eat this piece of chicken while you’re the Colonel,’ and I looked at them and I looked at the band and they had mustaches and I said, ‘How do y’all eat with the mustache?'”

McEntire is in four spots for KFC, with the potential for a fifth appearance, according to a rep for the brand. McEntire noted that it “would thrill me to pieces to continue it on.”

@KristinaMonllos Kristina Monllos is a senior editor for Adweek.