KFC, the fast food chain that loves an oddball stunt, announces a casting change for its spokesperson, the Colonel, today. But instead of tapping a famous actor to fill out the white suit, KFC is using a computer-generated bro that the company is calling “Virtual Influencer Colonel.” As his name implies, this dude loves living the good life and posing for photos on Instagram with his girlfriend, who is also a computer-generated model. Of course he’s got his own hashtag — #secretrecipeforsuccess — and those words are also tattooed across his chiseled abs.
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#latergram to that time I met up with @dagny.gram. Just a couple of virtual influencers doing our thing. Always do your thing. That’s part of my #secretrecipeforsuccess #smize #virtualmodel #modellife #aspirational #friedchicken #advice #success #entrepreneur #behindthecurtain #keys #respect #inspiration #positive #positivethoughts #artistatwork
The creepiness of this stunt is offset, somewhat, by the pitch-perfect parody of influencer babble in the captions of these posts. “It’s important never to lose sight of the things that make you who you are,” reads the caption below a photo of the Colonel in the kitchen. “For me, it’s being in the kitchen and making amazing fried chicken. That’s what got me here, and I never want to lose that young and hungry Colonel who spent all his time perfecting fried chicken. I’m still that kid who straps on an apron and makes fried chicken.” And like any true Instagram hustler, the Virtual Influencer Colonel is thirsty for brand partnerships: According to a press release from KFC, the digital spokesperson will be “crushing deals with brands like Dr Pepper, Old Spice and TurboTax.”
While using a computer-generated dope as a temporary spokesperson might seem like a bizarre move for a big food brand, this cheeky stunt is completely in line with the irreverent and always-unpredictable nature of KFC’s ongoing Colonel ad campaign. Over the last few years, the Colonel has been played by Jim Gaffigan, Reba McEntire, Rob Lowe, Billy Zane, Ray Liotta, Norm Macdonald and RoboCop. Many of the best KFC stunts have also included some sort of timely hook related to an internet trend — whether that’s ASMR videos or novelty space launches. This latest stunt lands just a few weeks after a popular New York-based lifestyle Instagram account was exposed for being completely computer generated. And the virtual, narcissistic Colonel arrives just in time for the annual influencer-heavy desert spectacle known as Coachella.