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KFC customers hate the new Colonel, and the CEO says that's a good thing

(KFC)
KFC is doubling down on Colonel Sanders as it prepares to reveal yet another actor playing the chicken chain’s founder.

The chain released an absurdist teaser for its upcoming commercial bidding goodbye to comedian Norm MacDonald, who has played the Colonel in a recent ad campaign.

If you’re more confused than ever after watching the ad, you aren’t alone.

KFC clarified to Mashable that the company will reveal the new celebrity to play Colonel Sanders in a spot set to air during the Super Bowl pregame. The new actor will be the third to play the role of KFC’s founder in less than a year.

Colonel Sanders has been featured front and center in KFC’s recent marketing efforts. The chain reintroduced the Colonel to marketing last May, played by Darrell Hammond. Norm MacDonald took over the role in August.

(FRCH Design Worldwide)

In the last year, both men’s versions have appeared in TV commercials and on social media. The company is even remodeling restaurants to put Colonel Sanders at the forefront.

According to the company, the rebirth of the Colonel is working.

“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.

The company has previously said that it doesn’t mind if some customers — an estimated 20% — hate the new Colonel Sanders ads.

“They’re actually talking about KFC, and you can market to love and hate — you cannot market to indifference,” Yum! Brands CEO Greg Creed said in May.

With Chick-fil-A’s recent expansion and the broader growth of fast-casual chicken concepts, KFC is looking for a way to stand out. Currently, the chain’s solution is trying to tap into customers’ nostalgia for the Colonel, as played by apparently interchangeable old white guys.



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An image provided by FRCH via Hilton shows a rendering of a new hotel brand named Tru. Hilton is launching the new brand, focusing on budget travelers looking to spend $75 to $90 a night.

Hilton is launching a new hotel brand, focusing on budget travelers looking to spend $90 to $100 a night.

The new brand, named Tru, aims to compete with economy and midscale chains like Comfort Inn, Fairfield…

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The biggest restaurant brands are investing billions on something that isn't food

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FRCH Design Worldwide

If you’ve been to a fast-food chain recently, you may have noticed things are looking very different than they once did.

Chains including KFC, Arby’s, and Panera are in the midst of major redesigns, with Subway reportedly planning a similar makeover this summer.

As brands try to shift customers’ perceptions to see the companies as fresher, cleaner, and more modern, the chains are eager to demonstrate these attributes in their design.

KFC is rolling out a new, bold Colonel Sanders-centric design, with plans for 70% of the brand’s 4,500 US restaurants to be updated by the end of 2017.

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FRCH Design Worldwide

In 2015, Arby’s completed remodeling 179 Arby’s locations, with the company saying that the redesign correlated with major sales increases. Arby’s new design is part of the company’s “taste-crafted” image, with a deli-inspired set up that locations across the US can mix-and-match different elements from to fit their needs.

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FRCH Design Worldwide

Panera’s redesign has been more tech-centric, rolling out a new design that incorporates digital ordering kiosks. The company says that the new tech is cutting lines and wait times, as well as decreasing order errors.

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FRCH Design Worldwide

From a purely aesthetic standpoint, these redesigns have a few things in common. Especially at KFC and Arby’s, the emphasis is on “bold” and “bright,” in contrast with negative fast-food stereotypes of drab and dirty.

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FRCH Design Worldwide

While the redesigns are aggressively modern, they also attempt to tap into customers’ senses of authenticity and nostalgia. KFC, for example, features a semi-shrine to Colonel Sanders, while Arby’s is covered in old-school natural wood.

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Highlighting food preparation is also a major trend, in the US and internationally. In Japan, McDonald’s remodeled stores to include an open kitchen design to increase customer trust after a human tooth and pieces of plastic were allegedly found in the food. The fast-food giant has also debuted open kitchen locations in Hong Kong.

With Arby’s also adding an open kitchen in new stores, the practice may be the new normal as fast-food tries to defeat its negative reputation for serving suspicious food.

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FRCH Design WorldwideIn most cases, new technology is less about design and more about functionality, as chains such as McDonald’s, Panera, and Chili’s incorporate tablets in a variety of ways. However, as demonstrated by Panera 2.0, introducing new tech can go beyond adding a few touchscreen devices — it can change the entire set up of a restaurant.

“Fast food” is out, as more and more restaurant chains try elevate themselves as “fast casual” or, in Arby’s case, “fast crafted.” A big part of that is design — so look out for more natural wood, tablets, and open kitchens at fast-food giants in the coming years.

NOW WATCH: Panera Bread is replacing human cashiers with kiosks



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New KFC Store Design Puts the Colonel Front and Center

New KFC Store Design Puts the Colonel Front and Center

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Image Caption: Image Credit: New KFC store design puts Colonel Sanders front and center. Exclusive Brief: 0 Colonel Sanders, a well-known personality throughout the U.S. for his famous finger lickin’ good fried chicken, luscious biscuits, and other tasty sides, is ambling into a new century. KFC’s owner, Yum! Brands, tapped FRCH Design Worldwide to give the brand a modern look that captures the…

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KFC has unveiled a new look to compete with Chick-fil-A

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FRCH Design Worldwide

KFC is getting a makeover.

The chicken chain is now rolling out a new, fast-casual-inspired design that the brand began testing in 2014. Seventy percent of the brand’s 4,500 restaurants will be be updated by the end of 2017, using a revitalization strategy crafted by FRCH Design Worldwide.

FRCH describes itself as a “global brand experience firm specializing in fast casual concepts,” which has previously worked with brands including McDonald’s, California Pizza Kitchen, and Taco Bell. 

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FRCH Design WorldwideThe new design is intended to modernize the chain’s appearance, with a cleaner and bolder look. The revamped locations include stark red and white walls, furniture, and decoration.

In addition to traditional tables, FRCH’s prototype also features counter chairs and a semi-circular booth.

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FRCH Design Worldwide

The exterior seems calculated to grab potential customers’ attention, with red-and-white stripes, capital letters spelling out the chain’s “WORLD FAMOUS CHICKEN” tagline, and an illustration of Colonel Sanders’ face.

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FRCH Design Worldwide

In general, Colonel Sanders is front and center in the revamped locations. FRCH prototypes show quotes by and photos of the Colonel covering the restaurant.

The prominence of Colonel Sanders goes hand-in-hand with KFC’s recent efforts to refocus customers’ attention on the Colonel with an ad campaign starring comedian Norm MacDonald.

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FRCH Design Worldwide

According to FRCH, the new look is inspired by Sanders’ first restaurant, opened in 1952.

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FRCH Design Worldwide

With Chick-fil-A’s recent expansion and the growth of fast-casual chicken concepts more generally, KFC has realized it needs to evolve with the times. One recent update that illustrates the brand’s effort to attract the fast-casual-loving foodie market: the debut of Nashville Hot Chicken, a flavorful chicken variation based on a Kentucky culinary icon.

NOW WATCH: McDonald’s released a ‘Chick-fil-A killer’ and it’s amazing



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