As we announced from the highest peaks earlier in the month, there’s a new Colonel Sanders in town. Darrell Hammond is playing the KFC patriarch in a new series of commercials full of Southern whimsey and clucking mannerisms (my take on it). The whole thing is the latest in a long line of Sanders clones that have hit the media landscape in an effort to push the Colonel’s classic chicken to the masses. The difference this time is that people seem to hate the guy:
Mashable notes a bunch of reactions just like this across social media, but the criticism spreads into a far more official realm. According to USA Today, Former KY Governor John Y. Brown Jr. isn’t a big fan of the new Col. Sanders and thinks the real man wouldn’t be a big fan either:
“I don’t think you make a gimmick out of somebody,” Brown said in a phone interview from his home in Lexington. “I think they are making fun of the Colonel. It is such a fascinating story, I hate to see them tarnish it.”
USA Today notes that Brown purchased the “secret” recipe back in 1964, opening thousands of stores before selling the company in 1971. Brown says the real Colonel was nothing like the version we’re seeing on the commercials (shocker, I know) and did not play the mandolin.
The kicker here is that KFC doesn’t really care. They’ve put their fake history of Colonel Sanders online, they’re pushing these commercials like they’re funding the entirety of television by themselves, and they love that people are voicing their displeasure with their head chicken honcho. According to Mashable, it’s the classic example of any publicity being good publicity:
“I am actually quite happy that 20% hate it, because now they at least have an opinion,” Creed said. “They’re actually talking about KFC, and you can market to love and hate; you cannot market to indifference.”
At least Hammond’s Colonel Sanders looks like the classic version. We can’t say that about McDonald’s new Hamburglar, a version that honestly makes me fear for the Grimace. Bad influences can stir up those old, evil feelings.
I think the big issue here is that this Colonel is not real enough. In reality, he cursed like a sailor and usually said the first thing that popped into his head without coaching (like the famous tagline “finger licking good”). Give me that Colonel on TV and in print ads, the possibilities are endless! Then, I’d eat at KFC immediately.