When you imagine Kentucky Fried Chicken, what comes to mind first? Is it the popcorn chicken and fluffy biscuits? Perhaps it’s the extra large sodas. If you’re anything like me, then your mind immediately jumps right to the man himself, Mr. Colonel Sanders.

With his graying locks and round specs, the Colonel is modeled after real life chef Harland Sanders, the man behind the world famous KFC recipe. In terms of mascots, he’s right up there with Mr. Peanut, Tony the Tiger, and the Kool-Aid Man.

Now in 2018, Kentucky Fried Chicken is taking the Colonel to uncharted territory, dressing him as a honey bear and giving him away to 705 lucky winners!

KFC has even given Colonel Bear a voice on Twitter:

As a business owner, what should you take away from this giveaway and the KFC brand as a whole? Colonel Bear has a few things to teach you!

Use Branded Items

Image source: Marketing Dive

Sure, Colonel Bear is a little weird and desperate for companionship, but he’s free! People are going to sign up and try to get one of their own. If they win, friends and family are going to ask, “Where’d you get that?” and they’ll naturally start talking about the giveaway and KFC’s Hot Honey flavor. Colonel ear’s proud owner, whether they realize it or not, just became part of KFC’s advertising strategy.

This isn’t the first time Kentucky Fried Chicken used creative promotional items. First there were KFC promo products for the holidays and then Colonel Sander floaties. No matter what they’re giving away, these items have successfully brought attention to KFC and can do the same for your business. You can even go with something simple like tote bags to get valuable attention! It’s all in the unique factor and the creative ways you use them.

Take Risks

Image source: YouTube

KFC’s marketing team sat around a table and tried to think of ways to promote their new sandwich. Rather than doing commercials or billboards, some daring individual said, “Let’s give away a honey bear dressed like Colonel Sanders.” It’s an unconventional idea, but it makes their brand more noticeable and more likely to be talked about.

The fast food chain isn’t playing it safe by any means. A good amount of money was invested in creating Colonel Bear and bringing him to promotional materials like videos and commercials. While ideas like this could backfire, you don’t know unless you try! Trying new things is a surefire way to ensure your marketing is always crispy and hot, just like a good bucket of chicken.

Go with What Works

Image source: QSR Web

If Colonel Bear is successful, KFC has a new brand mascot on their hands. Think of the merchandising deals that could come as a result! We’re talking Colonel Bear stuffed animals, keychains, t-shirts, and maybe even an animated show. At the same time, it only makes sense to keep Colonel Sanders in the equation, especially since the sales at KFC increased by 2% when he returned as their mascot.

Time will tell, but people will either go crazy over Colonel Bear on social media or scratch their head over the giveaway. Listen to your audience’s reaction either way. When the feedback is overwhelmingly positive, it only makes sense to capitalize on that success.

KFC was on the brink of disaster only a few years ago. They had to shut down almost 1,000 of their locations and was getting left behind by Chick-fil-A and other chicken restaurants. In 2015, they returned to their roots with a Colonel Sanders spokesperson, and from there, they’ve been getting attention with their daring promotional campaigns and free giveaways.

All in all, it pays to incorporate creative branded items into your marketing and take risks in your promotional ideas!

About the author

Alyssa Mertes

Alyssa is a promo expert with over four years of experience in the industry. She is the Lead Copywriter at Quality Logo Products and has had work published for the Promotional Products Association International and the Advertising Specialty Institute.