Just in time for the launch of Thursday Night Football, America’s original stunt-loving fried chicken chain, KFC, is bringing back a character from a beloved (but deeply flawed) sports movie: Rudy.
In the new commercial, Rudy, played by original star Sean Astin, still has dreams of making it big — but instead of instead of playing for Notre Dame, he now yearns to become the next Colonel Sanders. Just like the original movie, the story starts with Rudy being told that he can’t achieve his dream, and the underdog sports hero insisting that he’s going to to prove all the naysayers wrong. While icing up his shoulder in the locker room, Rudy tells his teammates, “I don’t care what anybody says, I’m making that chicken!” The clip ends with Rudy, dressed as Colonel Sanders in full football regalia, racing onto the field with chicken bucket in hand.
Like most of KFC’s Colonel Sanders stunts, the production value on this clip is notably high and the casting switch-up feels completely out of left field (though it’s perhaps not as surprising as the virtual Colonel influencer or RoboColonel from earlier this year). Nobody talks about the movie Rudy anymore, but the film has an undeniable nostalgia factor for football fans and anyone who picked it from the wall at Blockbuster way back in the early ‘90s. If the clip resonates with enough Rudy Fans, it could effectively steal some of the thunder away from Popeyes, a rival chain that has completely dominated the national fast food conversation over the last month with all the drama surrounding its new chicken sandwich.
The launch of Colonel Rudy (and Jack in the Box’s leaning tower of poultry) suggests that the fast food brands are now, in this post-Popeyes sandwich universe, locked in a grudge match to see who can generate the most hype for their chicken products via marketing gimmicks. And while this Rudy stunt is definitely pandering to boomers and oddly sentimental Gen-Xers, at least it’s not as obnoxious as sending Diplo to Burning Man in a chartered Popeyes jet with a bag full of chicken sandwiches.
• Rudy II: He’s Colonel Sanders Now [YouTube]
• All KFC Coverage [E]