With the reintroduction over the past year of its iconic Colonel, based on founder Harland Sanders, KFC has returned to its original messaging. The division of Louisville, Ky.-based Yum! Brands Inc. brought back the Colonel and has leaned into digital advertising.
“In recent years, we have worked hard to bring The Colonel back to front and center in our marketing,” said Kevin Hochman, KFC US chief marketing officer, in response to emailed questions.
“The Colonel represented a commitment to making chicken the hard way, from scratch,” Hochman said.
“But he was also the face of the brand in marketing — on every package, in every commercial, on the front of our restaurants. The challenge is: How do you bring back someone who was so important to everything we did, but in a way that introduces him to a whole new generation of customers, while maintaining the core values of what has made Kentucky Fried Chicken so successful?”
Hochman said the company knew “that to move our brand forward, we must go back to our roots,” and adjusted marketing to that message.
“KFC is an iconic American brand — one people have very personal memories of growing up. We want to return to what has always made us great and provide memories for a new generation of diners,” he said.
Highlights of the past 50 years, Hochman said, included the brand's tag line in each of the decades:
1960s: We fix Sunday Dinner 7 Days a Week
1970s: Finger Lickin’ Good
1980s: We Do Chicken Right
1990s: Everybody needs a Little KFC
2010s: The return of the Colonel and The Hard Way.
The “It’s Finger Lickin’ Good” tagline returned in 2015.
The Colonel, which has debuted in various incarnations throughout the decades, and especially in the past year, is constantly evolving.
“This month, to coincide with the start of the football season, new celebrity Colonel Rob Riggle has created his own football team, the Kentucky Buckets, with the sole purpose of selling buckets of chicken to sports fans,” said Hochman.
“This campaign will go across all touch points — TV, digital, social, and PR," he said. “Part of our marketing strategy is to be unexpected, and we are constantly evolving our marketing and advertising tactics to keep our brand relevant and fun for our fans.”
Digital advertising has become a big part of KFC's messaging, and will continue to play an important role, Hochman said.
“The Digital Revolution has obviously changed the marketing landscape for many brands, and KFC is no different,” he said. “While TV continues to be the No. 1 driver of awareness, we are diversifying our marketing to reflect what customers are consuming in the media landscape.”