How KFC Is Bringing A Regional Favorite To National Audiences

The QSR unveiled its newest spokesman this past week to promote its Nashville Hot Chicken. But instead of going national to local, the chain is reversing that marketing trajectory.

KFC introduced its newest version of the iconic Colonel Sanders character in the form of Mad Men star Vincent Kartheiser this week to promote its Nashville Hot Chicken to a wider national audience.

The Wieden + Kennedy campaign starring the man who played smarmy ad exec Pete Campbell continues the quirky, ironic tone established by recent Colonel Sanders players, including comedians Jim Gaffigan, Norm McDonald, and Darrell Hammond. In this twist, this Colonel takes the form of a white haired ’50s rockabilly singer that seems designed to appeal to younger, college-age consumers who appreciate the off-beat. (See the preview spot here.)

By reaching out to younger consumers, the campaign could boost foot-traffic for KFC during the increasingly competitive late-night hours. As Foursquare stats show, KFC gets about 6.5 percent of its foot-traffic during the post-10pm period. In contrast, White Castle gets 21 percent of its visits between 10pm and 4am, followed by Jack In The Box (17 percent), and Taco Bell (14 percent).

“There’s a lot of opportunity for brands to win over consumers during late-night hours, which is why we analyzed Foursquare and Swarm data to determine how much foot traffic leading QSR chains see,” Steven Rosenblatt, Foursquare’s president told GeoMarketing. “If these brands are looking to take a bite out of their competition, they should note which QSRs are successfully attracting large amounts of late-night foot traffic and make sure they have competitive offerings.”

"KFC is bringing back its spicy, smoky Nashville Hot Chicken with a new rebellious Nashville Hot Colonel played by actor Vincent Kartheiser," KFC says.
“KFC is bringing back its spicy, smoky Nashville Hot Chicken with a new rebellious Nashville Hot Colonel played by actor Vincent Kartheiser,” KFC says.

The wider goal of the of the effort is to capitalize on the popularity of “extra spicy” fried chicken that has taken root in a number of cities.

“This is a national, U.S. campaign, though we are focused on bringing a regional favorite – Nashville Hot Chicken — across America,” a KFC rep told GeoMarketing. “KFC U.S., together with the franchisee organization, distributes toolkits for promotional windows, including new product rollouts, to franchisees and team members equipping them with resources to communicate to customers in the restaurant. KFC US manages and executes advertising to promote campaigns on a national level.”

Asked if there were any geotargeting or specific mobile efforts involving local franchises for this campaign, the rep said, “KFC U.S. does not do any regional or local promotions beyond test markets, which take place in different cities across the U.S. throughout the year.”

While KFC doesn’t have a dedicated app — The KFC “SOGOOD” augmented reality app was launched by the Yum Brands’ unit’s global partners and is not active in the U.S. — the company has been taking steps to make its outlets more mobile friendly.

In June,  KFC began adoption of mobile pay in U.S. restaurants. The system, which is compatible with Android Pay, Apple Pay and Samsung Pay, completed its rollout to all its 4,500 restaurants in the U.S. (the company has over 19,000 KFC locations globally).



About The Author
David Kaplan David Kaplan @davidakaplan

A New York City-based journalist for over 20 years, David Kaplan is managing editor of A former editor and reporter at AdExchanger, paidContent, Adweek and MediaPost.