Gary Lineker 'becomes' Colonel Sanders in Walkers-KFC collab

Walkers ad asks: 'Why did it take us so long?'

Walkers frontman Gary Lineker makes an appearance as KFC mascot Colonel Sanders in a campaign promoting the brand’s KFC-flavoured crisps.

Created in-house by PepsiCo’s creative team, “It makes sense” begins with Lineker eating a packet of the KFC crisps outside “Colonel’s News” newsagents.

In a tone similar to KFC’s 2019 campaign “What the cluck”, a voiceover asks: “KFC-flavoured crisps – it’s a no-brainer. So why did it take us so long?” 

It ends with Lineker eyeing up the Colonel’s classic white ensemble in the window of a suit shop, with the reflection making it appear as if he was wearing it.

The ad debuts tonight (Saturday) during The Masked Singer on ITV and will run until April alongside digital activity, including a Twitter Spotlight takeover and a limited-time on-pack KFC meal two-for-one promotion.

It was created by Andrew Jordan and Alex King, and directed by Rollo Jackson through Somesuch.

Media duties were handled by PepsiCo, which unveiled its in-house creative and media agency in September 2020, in keeping with plans to "redefine" its European marketing output to be faster and better connect with its customers.

Fernando Kahane, managing director at Walkers, told Campaign that the idea was inspired by online comparisons between Lineker and Colonel Sanders – something that (believe it or not) has been a talking point for years.

He remarked that it had taken Walkers “too long to act” on the collaboration as consumers have been asking for KFC-flavoured crisps since 2009.

Kahane admitted that he was “concerned” by the prospect of turning Lineker into KFC’s brand mascot but said the Match of the Day host “thought it was fantastic”.

“It's really great to have a partner with a sense of humour and his shared ambition to drive smiles,” Kahane added.

Walkers appointed VCCP to its creative account across Walkers and Sensations in July 2020 after a pitch against Uncommon Creative Studio.

But, according to Kahane, a decision was made to handle this ad in-house because VCCP is currently handling Walker's upcoming rebrand, which is set for release next month.

“We thought that it would make more sense to use our in-house agency to move quickly and to give up space for VCCP to focus on the campaign that we're going to be launching,” he said.

“The whole thing about the internal agency is agility – they do work as an extension of our marketing team – and in this case it made sense to use them.” 

Walkers decided not to release a TV spot at Christmas last year. Instead, it ran a social media ad starring LadBaby with cameos from Lineker, Aled Jones, Carol Smillie and  East 17's Tony Mortimer.

From now on, the brand is aiming to “stop thinking ‘interruption advertising’ and think more ‘entertainment advertising'” to better engage with the public across social channels, Kahane explained.

“The idea is to create an ecosystem where we have both internal and external agencies working together,” he continued.

Kahane claimed that the brand's upcoming work will "drive as much traffic" as Weetabix's unlikely collaboration with Heinz Beanz by "tapping into something that consumers already do”.