KFC may be getting only mixed reviews for its rebranding starring a rebooted version of Colonel Harlan Sanders, but Yum! Brands is committed: Now not only is there the financial commitment of a three-year deal with Darrell Hammond to play the Colonel 2.0, but KFC also has invested in an absurd video game and even a new GPS navigation app featuring his voice.
In the latest wrinkle in the brand’s comeback campaign for a caricature of the man who founded the chain 60 years ago, KFC has partnered with traffic and navigation app Waze to give motorists the voice of Colonel Sanders in their ear when they’re following turn-by-turn directions. “Pothole on the road ahead,” the Colonel might say. “I’d fill it with gravy.”
“Wazers” will be able to opt-in to using The Colonel’s voice through August 16. Naturally, the app includes a guide to KFC restaurants that appear along their route.
“In our ads, the Colonel thinks it still costs $5 to fill up your car and that baseball is still America’s number one sport, free of corruption and cheating of any kind,” noted KFC US chief marketing officer Kevin Hochman in a press release. “But I can promise you his navigation instructions are more up to date.”
Meanwhile, KFC has delved further into the ironic with what one reviewer called “the strangely addictive online video game called ColonelQuest.” KFC promises the 8-bit Atari-style game is “historically accurate” but clearly takes liberties with that concept.
For example, on one level in the journey through the Colonel’s life, alluding to his time as an “amateur obstetrician,” the player must bounce flying babies off a trampoline. “Catch as many babies as you can so the Colonel won’t get sued for malpractice!” the game instructs.
All in all, the Louisville-based chain is certainly creating buzz with the new campaign, and social media reaction has been generally positive. But some tweets have described Hammond’s character as “creepy.”
And, of course, it remains to be seen if this new Colonel can help KFC recover ground in the increasingly competitive fast-food chicken business, where Chick-fil-A has eaten its lunch and where hamburger chains are increasing their investments in the bird.