KFC’s new celebrity colonel isn’t a celebrity at all.
The fried-chicken chain just picked Christopher Boyer, an unknown actor, to play the part of Colonel Sanders in its latest twist on the campaign from Wieden + Kennedy. Why choose an unknown? Because Boyer is playing the role of the Value Colonel—and KFC says not using a celebrity this time will help the brand save money so it can “continue to offer complete meals that won’t break the bank.”
KFC says Boyer has mostly had bit parts in TV shows over the years, including roles like “man in mattress store,” “professor” and “old seasoned farmer.” Boyer actually auditioned for the role of Colonel Sanders in 2015 when KFC began casting for its Colonel campaign—though the company claims not to recall that.
“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,” said 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.”
New TV spots featuring Boyer as the Value Colonel begin airing Dec. 28. Check out two spots below.
Boyer, who hails from Hagerstown, Maryland, once owned a restaurant known for fried chicken, though he was encouraged in the press release to 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,” Boyer said in a statement. “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. Now two years later, I am very grateful to be playing the role as the common man’s Colonel.”
You’ll notice, though, that KFC is having its fried chicken and eating it, too, by including a cameo by Wayne Knight (aka, Newman on Seinfeld) as a celebrity colonel in the intro spot above. “Despite our insistence that Knight was too much of a celebrity to play the Value Colonel, he still decided to be on set during filming in search of free chicken,” the brand joked.