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Marketplace Morning Report

Can the new Colonel Sanders save KFC?

Kai Ryssdal Jul 7, 2015
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Kentucky Fried Chicken has undergone a period of decline over the past decade, slashing hundreds of its restaurants in the U.S. and losing ground to rivals.

Despite international expansion, the company has been forced to shut down more than 1,100 stores domestically between 2004 and 2014, and now faces stiff competition from the chicken chain Chik-fil-A. 

“They’ve totally lost out to Chick-fil-A,” says Venessa Wong of Buzzfeed. “Chick-fil-A recently surpassed KFC in terms of sales, even though they have far fewer stores and they’re only open six days of the week.”

Wong reports that KFC parent company Yum Brands is not giving up on the chain, however. Over the next few years, they will invest $185 million into reinvigorating KFC – starting with the stores and a new advertising campaign.

In the latest KFC commercials, former Saturday Night Live cast member Darrell Hammond stars as the founder of Kentucky Fried Chicken, Colonel Sanders.

“The Colonel was a staple in their advertising for a long time,” Wong says. “Darrell Hammond is charming and he’s got this really enthusiastic character.”

By the looks of it, these efforts may be helping KFC a bit. Last financial quarter, the brand’s same-store sales were up seven percent in the U.S., according to Wong.  

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