Skip to content

57: Welcome back, Colonel: George Felix and the revival of the KFC brand

As part of an ongoing series of conversations with 2017 Effie-winning marketers, Alan Hart talks with George Felix, director of brand communications at KFC. In this podcast, they discuss KFC’s “The Return of Colonel Sanders” campaign.

Felix describes the North Star of the campaign as a return to what the brand stood for when it was great: Finger lickin’ good chicken, red-and-white buckets and the Colonel himself — whether it’s the Extra Crispy Colonel or the Colonel intent on launching chicken sandwiches into space.

Interestingly, this isn’t the first time Felix has played a part in the renaissance of a brand. He discusses his work on the Old Spice “Smell Like a Man” campaign and how what he learned there about decision making played a defining role in his career: “You need to have conviction. You need to trust your instincts — trust your gut. There’s not always a silver bullet or a number that’s going to answer your question.”

Highlights from this week’s “Marketing Today” podcast include:

  • Felix talks about the return of the Colonel: “When the brand was at its best, he was front and center. (1:01)
  • Admitting the brand needed to change course. (2:42)
  • “No one person can take the place of Colonel Sanders.” Keeping it unexpected and fresh with multiple actors playing the Colonel. (3:54)
  • The power of iconic brand elements. (4:55)
  • Marketing effectiveness: “Sales overnight and brand over time…it’s a tension and a balance.” (8:12)
  • Nike and Shinola: Two brands Felix keeps his eye on. (12:13)
  • Felix believes in a novel approach to marketing — literally. (13:24)
  • Felix’s take on the future of marketing: A continuation of breaking out of the mold — on the customer’s terms. (14:53)