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September 10, 2010 | cwinters

Reintroducing the Colonel: It’s treating the symptom, not the disease

This USA Today article and my colleague’s blog post earlier this week on KFC make cogent arguments about why and how KFC’s beloved founder became unrecognizable to the Facebook generation.

So KFC is embarking on a promotion to paint a new portrait of the Colonel, and otherwise revive the notion that their founder was a real person.

Seems to me that they are treating the symptoms, not the disease.

KFC comp store sales are down. They’ve had several failed attempts to “re-brand” themselves as healthy. (Anyone remember the skinless fried chicken debacle?) Then they went back to their deep fried roots and introduced the burger between fried chicken. They’ve also had moments of extreme popularity … remember when Oprah sent pretty much the whole world to KFC for free chicken?

What does any of this have to do with relative recognition of the Colonel? What makes them think that educating the next generation about the Colonel will do anything for them at all?

First, being a Colonel – even an honorary Kentucky Colonel – is no longer considered to be the ultimate honor. This generation equates military service with searching for fictional weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, not duty, honor, country. So that fascination seems played out.

Second, today’s iconic business founders do a lot more than just create a secret blend of spices. They create new industries, and if Warren Buffet and Bill Gates have their way, give their fortunes to charity.

I don’t see Burger King reinventing the King or Wendy’s bringing back Dave Thomas. The problem isn’t that this Generation doesn’t know the Colonel. The problem is that he isn’t relevant.

So when all is said and done, KFC will have new portraits of the Colonel painted with 11 herbs and spices mixed into the paint. But will it make anyone buy more chicken?

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Posted by cwinters at 2:54 pm | Tagged , , , | Comment (0)

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