Colonel Sanders Channels Santa, Badly, in W+K’s Silly Holiday Spots for KFC

Your new chicken-peddling chimney fixture

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.


Client: KFC

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