KFC and Lifetime partnered to reimagine Colonel Sanders as a sexy star in their fun collaboration for the holidays: the Lifetime original mini-movie, A Recipe for Seduction, starring Mario Lopez and his biceps as the Colonel himself.
In the movie, Jessica (Justine Alpert) seems to be on track to marry Billy (Chad Doreck), a rich suitor who has the approval (and more?) of her mother, Bunny (Tessa Munro). But the family’s new cook, Colonel Harland Sanders, turns her head and her heart, and it’s not just because of his secret recipe for fried chicken.
The collaboration was created after Lifetime had the idea to create a branded mini-movie and took it to KFC and its ad agency, Wieden+Kennedy Portland.
“KFC likes taking risks,” said Valerie Albanese, senior vice president, brand creative, Lifetime. “They are creatively open and they have done some other fun things in the past that were unexpected. KFC and Wieden+Kennedy really let us run creatively.”
KFC has been playing with the image of Colonel Sanders since 2015, with different actors playing the iconic chef de chicken such as Darrell Hammond, Norm McDonald and Reba McIntyre, among others, so handing the role over to Lopez wasn’t such a stretch.
The collaboration ticks several boxes, putting both KFC and Lifetime top of mind during a crowded holiday promotional season, and drawing fans to the movie in which Lopez stars, FelizNaviDAD, and all of Lifetime’s movies on its “It’s a Wonderful Lifetime” holiday hub.
“Everything we did was to get both of our brands out there and make a splash and also really provide some fun for people out there in the world during 2020,” said Maura O’Donovan, vice president, ad sales marketing and partnerships, A+E Networks.
The effort kicked off on Monday, Dec. 7, when Lifetime dropped the poster and 60-second trailer on Twitter and YouTube and started driving interest around the mini-movie, which premiered six days later on Lifetime at noon.
The mini-movie is now available on Lifetime’s website and on demand as well as on YouTube, where it currently has racked up more than 80,000 views on Lifetime’s and KFC’s channels. The trailer has more than 1.6 million views on Lifetime’s YouTube channel, another nearly 68,000 on KFC’s and many shares across social media.
Producing the mini-movie was no easy feat during the pandemic, with strict COVID-19 protocols having to be followed. Planning meetings were conducted across weekly 40-person video calls on Microsoft Teams. The movie was shot at a mansion in Los Angeles in September, with everyone involved who didn’t have to be on set watching via a remote video village for ten hours a day across a long three-day weekend.
The production was executed by production company Jean, with “quintessential Lifetime movie fan” Natalie Prisco directing, said Albanese.
“When we had this opportunity, our first thought was we have to work with Jean,” said Albanese. “Everything they do is very premium looking and it was very important to us that it not look cheesy. We were not making fun of Lifetime movies, we were making something for Lifetime movie super fans, and we knew they could deliver on that. You cannot do something of this magnitude unless you are working with creatives who are great team players.”
With the trailer, poster and mini-movie out in the world, Lifetime is happy with all the buzz it created and hopes to repeat the effort again soon with other clients.
“KFC wanted Colonel Sanders to be in a Lifetime movie. That leans into the trust they gave us and we both knew that we could do it right,” said Albanese. “For both brands, it is very important that we come off as premium and we put them together in this very innovative way. It was the perfect partnership.”
Client: Kentucky Fried Chicken
CMO: Andrea Zahumensky
Association Manager, Digital Marketing: Jill Stowers
Director of Media and Digital: Steve Kelly
Associate Manager, Digital Marketing: Rachel Gonzalez
Public Relations: Kasey Ryan
Client: A+E Networks
EVP, Ad Sales Marketing and Partnerships: David De Socio
VP, Production Project Management, Ad Sales Marketing & Partnerships: Maura O’Donovan
Director, Ad Sales Partnerships Production: Melanie Harris
Sr. Manager, Ad Sales Partnerships Production: Carolyn Cacace
Executive Creative Director: Tim Nolan
Sr. VP, Brand Creative, Managing Creative Director, Lifetime: Valerie Albanese
VP, Brand Creative, Lifetime: Jennifer Ferguson
Writer/Producer, Brand Partnerships, Lifetime: JR Muto
VP, Marketing Production: Kate Leonard
Sr. Director Creative, Brand Partnerships: Tom Kaniewski
Production Manager: Desiree Holm Moyer
Line Producer: David Camera
VP, Talent Partnerships & Strategy: Lindsay Fitz
Director Legal & Business Affairs: Vidal Maurrasse
Agency: Wieden + Kennedy Portland
Executive Creative Director: Eric Baldwin
Creative Directors: Jarrod Higgins, Lawrence Melilli
Copywriter/Art Director: Christa Prater, Maggie Paris
Head of Production: Matt Hunnicutt
Executive Producer: Hayley Goggin
Producers: Danielle Magee, Alex Lianopoulos, Camille Westerberg
Account Team Members: Jesse Johnson, Kimmy Cunningham, Mandy Wakimoto, Megan Russell, Allie Bottinelli, Komal Charania
Creative Operations Managers: Jane Monaghan, Jody Hart
Business Affairs: Emily Kahn
Media Team: Samantha Horvath, Kristen Mcnamee, Annamaria Grinis
Brand Strategy: Britton Taylor, Jake Watt
Digital Strategy Director: John Dempsey
Executive Design Producer: Alicia Kuna
Design Producer: Victoria Tengblad-Kreft
Design Director: Patrick Nistler
Designers: David Trujillo, Dave Hagen, Seth Shelman, Corey Bade
Photographer: Saskia Thomson
Motion Designer: Adam Sirkin
Retoucher: Kyle Pero
Copyediting: Erica Nikolaidis
Production Company: Jean