KFC certainly keeps coming up with novel ways to refresh Colonel Sanders. Faced with the passing of the brand’s iconic face in 1980, KFC has tapped a series of celebrities to portray Harland Sanders in its advertising in recent years.
Case in point: a recent holiday ad featuring the voice of Norm MacDonald—one of its “rotating” comedians and celebrities playing the Colonel—stuck in a chimney after a ‘gift’ drop.
Now the Yum! Brands-owned global chain is bucking its chain of celebrities and using an unknown. Meet ‘the Value Colonel.’
The newest Colonel isn't famous but he was really affordable. pic.twitter.com/8ieURUDjpv
— KFC (@kfc) December 20, 2017
KFC searched everywhere to find the most affordable person to embody the Value Colonel. pic.twitter.com/dBDlEj9x20
— KFC (@kfc) December 20, 2017
For the first time since launching its rotating Colonel campaign, Kentucky Fried Chicken has tapped an unknown actor, Christopher Boyer (right), to play the role of Value Colonel in its TV ads. By not paying big bucks to hire a celebrity actor, KFC’s message to customers is that it’s saving money on talent for its advertising campaigns—and therefore can pass along those savings in the form of delicious meals that won’t break the bank, such as hand-prepared pot pies for $3.99 (available December 25) and the variety of $5 Fill Up combinations.
A relatively unknown (and previously hirsute) actor, Boyer has filled the background in TV shows for years as an extra, playing roles like “man in mattress store,” “professor” and “old seasoned farmer.” Now, following a trip to the barbershop and a successful audition, he’s the new Colonel Sanders in KFC’s U.S. brand advertising. Coincidentally, Boyer auditioned for the role of Colonel Sanders in 2015 when KFC initially started casting for its Colonel campaign. Now he finally gets his big break as the Value Colonel, sharing his love for KFC’s abundance of complete meals at affordable prices.
“After casting a wide net to find our next Colonel—everywhere from big shot Hollywood agents to postings on job boards and even Craigslist—we were pleasantly surprised when we found Boyer,” stated KFC U.S. director of advertising George Felix.
“Much like the Colonel, he’s held a lot of forgettable roles before becoming the world’s most famous chicken salesman. Heck, he even auditioned for the role of the Colonel several years ago, and we didn’t remember him.”
Born in Hagerstown, Maryland, Boyer has worked many jobs over the course of his life, much like Colonel Sanders. At one point, Boyer even owned his own restaurant known for its delicious fried chicken, although he’ll admit it wasn’t quite as good as KFC.
“When I was preparing to audition for the Colonel role in 2015, I dug out my string tie from the back of my closet and looked up Harland Sanders on the internet. That’s when I first found out about the Colonel’s incredible life story, so I donned an accent for the audition and gave it my best shot,” said Boyer. “Now two years later, I am very grateful to be playing the role as the common man’s Colonel.”
The Value Colonel is promoting two specific menu items:
• KFC’s Pot Pie, a classic recipe that includes tender bites of the world’s best chicken, diced potatoes, peas and carrots covered in a savory sauce and baked in a flaky, golden crust.
• KFC’s $5 Fill Ups, which offer a complete meal with a choice of entrée, mashed potatoes, drink and a chocolate chip cookie—all for just five dollars.
The latter menu item was promoted with the first celebrity Colonel Sanders, comedian and Saturday Night Live alum Darrell Hammond, who debuted as Sanders in 2015.
That’s not to say that KFC won’t return to celebrity Colonels in the future, of course. And there is one celebrity cameo in the new campaign: Wayne Knight, the actor and comedian best known for his role as Newman, Jerry’s nemesis in NBC’s Seinfeld.
Advertising featuring Boyer as the Value Colonel begins airing across the U.S. on December 28.