Colonel Sanders is ready to fight

Who: KFC Canada, with Courage for strategy and creative and Wavemaker for media.

What: A very buff version of Colonel Sanders as a playable character / fighter in the popular video game Street Fighter 6.

When & Where: The Colonel is available as a downloadable character in the game, which launched in early June. The option to download and play The Colonel is being promoted through paid social content, influencer deals with gamers, and PR.

Why: Well for starters, videogaming and e-sports remains red-hot for consumer time and attention, so it’s only natural brands want to play, too. But Street Fighter 6 also allows players to try “recipes” to download customized characters—a nice alignment for a brand that has long made its secret recipe central to its brand mythology.

Street Fighter was an opportunity to organically put Colonel Sanders into a space where many people—especially younger people—are spending time.

“Right now, every brand wants to get into the world of e-sports,” said Azim Akhter, marketing director at KFC Canada, in a release. “With the introduction of “Recipes” to Street Fighter 6, we saw an opportunity to connect with gamers organically through our most iconic brand asset—and create a value exchange that’s authentic to the gameplay itself.”

How: The “fight-ready” version of the Colonel features his signature white hair, black-rimmed glasses and goatee, but since he’s, you know, a street fighter, this is a totally jacked version of the iconic southern gentleman.

Any player can simply apply the recipe code (WWS6V5MQQ) to play as the Colonel, but to provide them with an extra incentive, players can complete a hit combo, record it, share the clip on Instagram and tag KFC Canada for a chance to win KFC gift cards.

“One of our big objectives for the brand is to increase relevance amongst a younger audience,” said Tom Kenny, chief strategy officer at Courage. “Part of our strategy to do that is to find opportunities to bring KFC’s well established brand icons into popular culture.

“Colonel Sanders is probably their most iconic asset, so we’ve been actively trying to find ways to make him more relevant while also staying true to the real Colonel and his legacy.”

“I think we’re just taking the brand back to its roots,” added CCO Dhaval Bhatt. “It’s simple, unpretentious and messy food, and the brand is at its best when it’s having fun and not taking itself too seriously. If [Colonel Sanders] were here today, think he’d get a kick out of seeing himself doing combos on SF6.”

And we quote: “The moment Street Fighter 6 launched, we knew this was an idea we had to jump on and fast. Before it was even green-lit, we had already started designing the Colonel, unlocking his wardrobe, and building the assets needed to make it campaign ready. Simply put, you can’t sit on an idea like this. Either another brand will do it, or you’ll miss your chance to strike while the iron’s hot,” —Dhaval Bhatt, CCO, Courage


David Brown