KFC's president recently broke down the equation for deciding who the next Colonel will be.

By Mike Pomranz
Updated June 10, 2019
Courtesy of KFC

People who work in advertising often get a bad rap. Part of this is the company they keep: Advertising is creative work, but other creative types will often say that, since it’s inherently corporate, advertising is for sellouts and lacks prestige. But would you rather be a starving artist or get paid the big bucks to make tough marketing decisions… like who gets to be the next Colonel Sanders? KFC says some of the best minds out there are working for them.

In a recent interview with KFC’s U.S. President Kevin Hochman, Business Insider asked the important question: How the heck do you pick who’s going to be the next Colonel Sanders? Turns out deciding which celebrity gets to don the black tie takes more effort than you might think. “It's very, very deliberate... A lot of people think it's random, but it's not,” Hochman was quoted as saying. “There's some really smart people behind trying to figure this stuff out.”

Okay, it’s doubtful anyone assumed KFC simply had a celebrity dartboard in a meeting room, but Hochman explains that the selection process is complex equation: which products will be tied to a new Colonel Sanders, how important is that product, and then which celebrity matches both the product and their costs for that campaign. “We can’t blow the budgets,” Hochman told BI. So as an example, it’s implied that the company’s $20 Fill Up — which got Seinfeld’s Jason Alexander to play the Colonel — is probably a higher priority launch than Cinnabon Dessert Biscuits — which was promoted with more generic Chippendales dancers.

But beyond simply grabbing big names, Hochman says KFC is under pressure to mix things up as well, lest people stop caring. “It's a real challenge,” he was quoted as saying. “This poor marketing team's got to figure out how to keep this interesting.” But hey, you always knew being smart is both a gift and a curse.