On Colonel Sanders' 120th Birthday, Survey Reveals Young Americans Unclear If KFC Founder Was Real Person
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On Colonel Sanders' 120th Birthday, Survey Reveals Young Americans Unclear If KFC Founder Was Real Person

As More than Six Out of 10 Don't Recognize the Iconic Face On the Bucket, KFC Embarks on Year-Long Publicity Campaign Spotlighting Colonel Sanders and His Legacy

To Launch PR Blitz KFC Cooks Up Challenge: Artists Asked to Create a Colonel Portrait Using Paint Infused with Original Recipe® Herbs and Spices September 10, 2010 // Franchising.com // LOUISVILLE, KY - A new survey of American adults aged 18-25 revealed that six out of 10 could not identify Colonel Harland Sanders – founder of the world's largest chicken chain and once among the world's most recognizable celebrities. In fact, 52 percent believe he was a made up corporate icon.

To commemorate 120 years since the birth of its founder, KFC is cooking up a year-long publicity campaign befitting of an A-list celebrity to reintroduce the life and legacy of Colonel Sanders – a legendary entrepreneur who, at the age of 65, turned a $105 Social Security check into a global chicken empire.

"Colonel Sanders wasn't Kris Kringle, Father Time or Uncle Sam," said John R. Neal, longtime KFC franchisee. "He was a living, breathing, wildly successful entrepreneur who impacted our national cuisine. The Colonel was a marketing genius, even though he had only a sixth grade education. I'm really proud that we are embarking on this effort to celebrate his many accomplishments."

Updating a True Original: Calling All Artists

As part of the publicity blitz, KFC is launching a national search for a painter to create a piece of art to hang beside one of the most enduring pieces of Colonel memorabilia – a portrait painted by Norman Rockwell in 1973. But there's a catch: The portrait must be completed using special paint provided by KFC that is blended with the Colonel's famed 11 herbs and spices.

Now through September 30, 2010, artists can upload their sketches of the Colonel to www.kfc.com/portrait or send them via e-mail to kfc.publicrelations@kfc.com for a chance to create a lasting image of this global brand icon. The winning artist will be selected based on the submitted sketch and will receive a commission to paint a new portrait of the Colonel. The winner will also be awarded $1,100 ($100 for each of the herbs and spices in the Original Recipe) and the final portrait will hang alongside Norman Rockwell's classic portrait of Colonel Sanders, currently on display in the lobby of KFC headquarters. More information is available at www.kfc.com/portrait.

Finger-Lickin' Survey Findings

  • 61% of Americans 18-25 couldn't identify the person in the famous KFC logo
  • 52% of Americans 18-25 believe Harland Sanders is/was a made up corporate icon
  • 31% of Americans 18-25 "have no idea" who Harland Sanders is/was

Celebrating 120 Years of Colonel Harland Sanders

Born in 1890, Harland Sanders didn't always seem destined for Original Recipe fame. Prior to opening his first restaurant, the Sanders Court & Café in Corbin, Ky. in 1930, he tried his hand at a variety of jobs, including farm hand, streetcar conductor, army private in Cuba, blacksmith's helper, rail yard fireman, insurance and tire salesman and service station operator for Standard Oil. Sanders Court & Café made such an impact that in 1936, Harland Sanders received from the Governor the title of honorary Kentucky Colonel for his contributions to the state's cuisine.

At the age of 65, the Colonel used his $105 Social Security check to start KFC, and until his death at the age of 90, traveled 250,000 miles a year visiting KFC restaurants worldwide. For years, he carried the secret Original Recipe in his head and the spice mixture in his car as he drove coast to coast visiting franchisees. By 1976, he was ranked as the world's second most recognizable celebrity behind only heavyweight champion (and fellow Kentuckian) Muhammad Ali.

About KFC

KFC Corporation, based in Louisville, Ky., is the world's most popular chicken restaurant chain specializing in Original Recipe®, Extra Crispy™, Kentucky Grilled Chicken® and Crispy Strips with home-style sides, Honey BBQ Wings, and freshly made chicken sandwiches including the Double Down™ and the Doublicious™. There are more than 15,000 KFC outlets in 109 countries and territories around the world serving some 12 million customers each day. KFC Corporation is a subsidiary of Yum! Brands, Inc., Louisville, Ky. (NYSE: YUM.)


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