When a company's founder is also their spokesperson, it gives them a unique and inimitable face for the public to bond with. But sadly, mortality can get in the way of that beautiful corporate/consumer relationship. Such was the case with Colonel Harlan Sanders, the crotchety yet lovable founder of Kentucky Fried Chicken who, after his death, left a gaping hole in KFC's advertising strategy. After rendering Sanders in animated form for a while, the chicken chain recently made headlines by bringing the Colonel back in the fully-fleshed out form of Darrell Hammond, the former cast member/current announcer of Saturday Night Live.
Then something odd happened. After only a few spots hocking family meal deals, Hammond’s Colonel was replaced with another SNL alum, Norm MacDonald, in the iconic white suit and goatee. Then comedian Jim Gaffigan took a turn in the Colonel costume. It got to the point where KFC was willfully making a joke out of cycling through actors to re-revive the character with each campaign. That kind of oddball marketing is actually kind of brilliant when you think about it. You never know who might turn up as Sanders any given ad break. Sadly, nobody told Darrell Hammond that's what they were going to do.
In an interview with Opie and Jim Norton on Sirius XM's Opie Radio, Hammond and Gaffigan told their disparate sides of the story. Hammond had, for all intents and purposes, thought he'd been handed the mantle of playing Sanders, going so far as to meet with the Colonel's family as part of the vetting process. It wasn't until later that KFC told Hammond he would have to share the role with other comedians. Opie suggested that Hammond seemed "a little bothered by this." "I am," Hammond replied. "To build me up as like 'you're gonna bring back the Colonel, he's an American icon' …and there's five others. You could have told me that."
While the other personalities joke about the situation, Hammond appeared to maintain a rather serious tone and admitted to being pretty upset about getting pushed aside as America's most famous purveyor of poultry. Sure, to KFC it's a funny publicity ploy, but to Hammond it was so much more. "That's the last time I get emotionally invested in my work," he opined. We’re guessing he won’t be buying a Five Dollar Fill Up anytime soon.