Jim Gaffigan takes over the Colonel Sanders mantle

KFC has changed up the actor playing Colonel Sanders yet again, as comedian Jim Gaffigan appeared as the fast-food franchise’s creator in their latest commercial.

In the spot, the colonel learns KFC’s Nashville Hot Chicken Promotion is ending and screams in anger, which prompts him to wake up from a nightmare. His wife, who he says he’s with because she reminds him of a chicken, assures him everything’s fine. The colonel reflects about how he has plenty of dreams and nightmares about chicken. It’s pretty standard stuff, aside from some spitballing at the end by Gaffigan.

The second spot released is a quick 15-second spot, where he says only a colonel can give you a $5 home cooked meal, and that we’re in luck because he’s a colonel. The line is delivered perfectly by Gaffigan, even if it’s not spectacularly funny.

Gaffigan is the latest comedian to join the rotation of new Colonel Sanders. Saturday Night Live presenter Darrell Hammond relaunched the role back in May, and former Weekend Update anchor Norm McDonald took over for him in August. It seems the folks at KFC branding are trying to keep the role fresh, zany and talked about.

Analyst Mark Kalinowski wrote the casting has created a buzzworthy campaign.

“The brand’s reinvigoration with Saturday Night Live alums playing the role of founder Colonel Sanders has brought some buzz back to the concept,” Nomura analyst Mark Kalinowski wrote in a recent note. 

KFC was also impressed with the reach the campaign had on social media.

“If you looked at social media over Halloween, there were zillions of Colonel Sanders costumes — not just kids, but adults,” Kevin Hochman, KFC’s chief marketing officer, said at an event debuting Nashville Hot Chicken in New York City in January.

Business Insider reports the chain saw a 3% increase in sales last year after they dipped more than 15% in the past two years. So even if people aren’t digging the new interpretations of Sanders, you can’t deny they’ve done their job and increased the sales of chicken.

It seems another comedian was set to join the company as Colonel Sanders, as David Alan Grier tweeted he would be the first African-American to play the role in an upcoming KFC ad campaign.

Many media organizations ran with the news, but it appears to be a giant troll job by Grier. He’s retweeted accounts suggesting it was funny people reported the news without fact checking first.

Hochmann denied the news as well but admitted he’s open to having some conversation while eating some chicken.

“There is no new Colonel Sanders,” KFC executive Kevin Hochman said in a statement.

“We are very excited to learn that Mr. Grier is such a big fan of KFC and The Colonel,” Hochman added. “We’re a big fan of him as well. We hope to continue the conversation with him over a $5 Fill Up.”

So to keep track, Gaffigan is in, and Grier never was. It would be great to see Grier play the part, but if his strategy was to trick his way into the role, I’m not sure if that would ever be successful. Given how much they’ve changed the actor playing the part, it’s a possibility he could play the role one day.

About Liam McGuire

Social +Staff writer for The Comeback & Awful Announcing. Liammcguirejournalism@gmail.com