KFC’s Real Colonel Sanders Returns to Delight Goth Teens and Ridicule Norm Macdonald

Old ad footage gets new life in latest W+K spots

Since Wieden + Kennedy won KFC back in 2015, the brand has moved through a rotating cast of actors playing the iconic role of Colonel Sanders.

There was Darrell Hammond waxing nostalgic about a simpler time, before Norm Macdonald called him an imposter. Then, Rob Riggle and Billy Zane faced off in the Super Bowl, while George Hamilton just wanted to get a nice tan. Pete Campbell even managed to land the account, and Rob Lowe boldly promised to go where no sandwich has gone before.

Last month even saw a robot Colonel ready to automate your order.

Ultimately, though, all these caricatures were based on a very real person—Colonel Harland David Sanders. And the chain’s latest campaign brings things full circle, back to the man himself, almost 27 years after his death.

Using a mix of actual old commercial footage and new footage made to look old, the first spot reminds us that kittens and children alike prefer the real Colonel, and that Norm Macdonald never came up with a fried chicken recipe in the first place.

Keep sulking, Norm. You’re not fit to sample the Colonel’s secret blend of 11 herbs and spices. In an even more meta spot, a couple of moody teens seem to love that bucket of wings, even though they’re only happy when it rains.

“We’ve had some amazing celebrity Colonels over the past two years, and each of them has put their own twist on our original Colonel Harland Sanders,” said George Felix, the company’s U.S. director of advertising. “But no one can play the Colonel like the Colonel can play the Colonel. Unfortunately, our original Colonel stopped making ads in the 1970s, so we utilized technology to bring him into the 21st century to sell modern-day offers like our $5 Fill Up and $10 Chicken Share himself.”

The man may be old, but the bucket is new.

Agency: Wieden+Kennedy Portland
Client: KFC
Campaign: “The Original Colonel’s Original Recipe”

Creative Directors: Jason Kreher, Freddie Powell
Copywriter: Heather Ryder
Art Director: Devin Gillespie
Producer: Nicole Kaptur
Account Team: Jesse  Johnson, Rob Archibald, Lindsay Varquez
Executive Creative Directors: Jason Bagley, Eric Baldwin

Production Company: Smith + Jones Films
Director: Ulf Johansson
Executive Producer: Philippa Smith
Line Producer: Justine Madero
Director of Photography: Alwin Kuchler

Editorial Company: Joint
Editor: Steve Sprinkel
Post Producer: Chris Girard
Post Executive Producer: Jen Milano

VFX Company: Method Studios
VFX Supervisor: James Rogers
Senior Flame Artist: Ian Holland
VFX Producer: Jennie Burnett

Music and Sound Company: Walker

Mix Company: Lime
Mixer: Sam Casas
Producer: Susie Boyajan