Will the Real Colonel Sanders Please Stand Up?

June 12, 2018

Will the Real Colonel Sanders Please Stand Up?

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There are very few industries that can match fast food’s creativity in marketing and advertising campaigns. Wendy’s, for example, has achieved an unparalleled notoriety for its sarcastic and often mean Twitter account. It seems that the brand has become more known for its Twitter game than for its food.


However, at least in my opinion, Wendy’s advertising doesn’t come close to matching the variety or creativity of Kentucky Fried Chicken.

One of the most memorable and long-lasting campaigns has been the depiction of KFC founder, Colonel Sanders. According to Paste Magazine, since KFC changed its spokesman in 2015, they have had 13 different portrayals of the iconic Colonel Sanders. Now, I don’t know if KFC intended it to be an ongoing advertising strategy or it was a one-off idea that went viral, but regardless, it’s a unique tactic that has kept them in the mainstream conversation for years.

My personal favorite (because he’s great in everything he does) is Rob Riggle, with Jim Gaffigan as a close second. “Finger lickin, finger lickin, finger lickin”.

But it doesn’t end there. If you head over to their Twitter account (and you should) you’ll find a treasure trove of unique, creative content. Take this image for example.

Who does that? Can you think of another brand that would be so…cavalier (sorry, too soon?) with the depiction of its founder and spokesperson? Can you see Wendy’s taking Dave Thomas and putting him on the cover of a romance novel?

Go small or go home

There’s also this bizarre experiment to open the world’s smallest KFC that apparently sold real food. I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall during this pitch.

Chicken in space

And then there’s the infamous sandwich in space campaign. I have no idea what it cost, but a simple Google search reveals that the story was covered in multiple media outlets, such as Fox Business, Inc., New York Times, and Huffington Post earning a greater share of voice in the market, which translates to increased brand awareness.

They also made the ad campaign interactive by giving people the ability to send tweets to the…bucket satellite? and have those tweets appear on a screen. While the thing never made it into orbit (*gasp), they did an amazing job of hyping it and building a following. Instead of simply making a few commercials, they made a substantial investment and created an astonishing amount of supporting content.

Does it really matter?

At the end of the day, it can be difficult to attribute an increase in sales to an online marketing or advertising campaign. Many brands look at vanity statistics such as an increase in followers on social media as a metric to determine success, but followers aren’t synonymous with sales and can be bought. A social listening platform like NUVI significantly facilitates the curation and analysis of social media mentions. For example, you can track specific keywords and then quickly create segments to isolate specific mentions. Furthermore, you can also track in real-time every time a blog post or article online mentions your brand so you are always aware of public perception. Finally, you can look at the number of incoming tweets that mention a particular ad as an indicator of public sentiment for or against that type of messaging.

These metrics, coupled with intuitive visualizations, make it much easier to show ROI and track market voice across multiple social platforms.

KFC has really invested in the idea of “always original” in both their product line and marketing efforts and as their earned media increases, so does their brand awareness and loyalty.

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