KFC: Virtual Colonel


The world’s first branded virtual influencer. He’s not a celebrity; he’s not even real.

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Over the last few years, KFC has had fun inviting a variety of pop culture figures to take on the role of its mascot. This time a computer-generated version of the Colonel was created to resonate with Gen Z audiences. The new Colonel sports the signature silver hair styled in hipster fashion, well manicured beard with black-rimmed glasses, and the iconic white suit updated to fit modern hipster trends.

Intended to parody the lifestyle of Instagram influencers, KFC’s Virtual Colonel took over the KFC social channels, showing the ridiculously good-looking Colonel living his best influencer life. The campaign ran for two weeks ending on April 22 Throughout its run, the KFC influencer partnered with Dr Pepper, Old Spice, TurboTax, and Casper, immediately commanding the attention of its 1.3 million Instagram followers while also tapping into the followings of the other brands. Virtual Colonel soon went viral, posting pictures of himself at the gym, boarding private jets, and posing with other virtual influencer friends, with each post complete with brand sponsorships and captions spoofing some real-life influencers.

Each post bore the hashtag “secret recipe for success” which was also tattooed on his chiseled abdomen. Posts included lines such as, “I may be a restaurant mogul and international inspiration, but I’m still just a kid who loves being in the kitchen.” This was a nod to KFC’s famous blend of 11 herbs & spices.

The interactive campaign embraced the world of social influencers right down to the bio, which was humorously written to capture the style the many influencers adopt. He even came with his own influencer kit.

Virtual Colonel generated over 151 million earned impressions—not bad for someone who doesn’t exist.

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