SNL’s Darrell Hammond delivers pervy impersonation of Colonel Sanders in new campaign for KFC.

June 5, 2015

Heh, heh, heh…

Darrell Hammond is the longest tenured member of Saturday Night Live, perhaps best known for his impersonation of horn dog Bill Clinton. Freaking hilarious. Well, he’s turned to impersonation once again, this time playing Kentucky Fried Chicken’s reincarnation of Colonel Harland Sanders in a series of new ads created by Wieden & Kennedy.

Conceptually, I don’t take issue with utilizing a popular comedian to resurrect the Colonel. He’s a hugely iconic figure, and we haven’t seen him in quite a while. In some respects, SNL and many of its stars are also iconic. We see them all the time. Still, anything is better than endless food photography.

Hammond’s impersonation is overtly tongue and cheek, which (mostly) mitigates the fact that the “real” Colonel Sanders died in 1980. Bringing back the dead is dangerous business. Do you recall when agency, Crispin Porter & Bogusky brought back the real and really dead Orville Redenbacher? What a shit show that was. So, it’s good W&K didn’t go there.

Alas, this new Colonel is creepy in another way. How can I put this? At times, he comes off as a dirty old man. In one commercial Sander’s flirts with a comely, young life guard at the pool. At one point he chortles, “Dip your chicken” and cackles, lasciviously. I cringed.

Basically, Hammond has repurposed his impersonation of Bill Clinton, merely adding a white beard and suit. It’s the same slightly Southern accent. Shifty eyes. Mostly, however, it’s that unnerving laugh: Heh, heh, heh. Like the punctuation of a wildly inappropriate joke. Or worse. As if an 80-year-old man were recounting hot teens he checked out with his telescope. Ew.

Creepy_King_Bed
Creepy King vs Creepy Colonel

How or why did KFC and its agency enable such a performance? Here’s a theory. The team went for snarky (and found inappropriate). After all, we consumers are jaded and cynical. If you bring back an old man/advertising spokesperson he’d better be EXTREME. He’d better go VIRAL. Sigh. This is ironically the same disturbed thinking that gave us the “Creepy King” for Burger King.

Back in the day, Colonel Sanders represented southern hospitality. He was your grandfather who made fried chicken that was “finger licking good.” Far too wholesome for contemporary audiences. Yes, we’d much rather share painfully awkward moments with bad grandpa.

Heh, heh, heh.

3 Responses to “SNL’s Darrell Hammond delivers pervy impersonation of Colonel Sanders in new campaign for KFC.”

  1. In our house, KFC ads are cause for universal “ewe, creepy” comments. And, “Who approved that POS?” Oy!

  2. Kate Johnson said

    I turn the station! HE is CREEEPY! He makes my skjn crawl! Make my own chicken now. And I loved KFC original recipe. Why would they shoot themselves in the foot like that?!!

  3. Amazing performance of the realities of abuse and resulting mental illness.
    I pray Darrell Hammond will find his project a public service and reach as many people as possible.
    Thank you for the experience.

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