KFC’s founder and now mascot Colonel Sanders has been played by actors including Rob Lowe, Vincent Kartheiser and Norm Macdonald, but his latest impersonator comes in the form of an animatronic robot that greets customers and takes their orders at the drive-thru.
Created to celebrate National Fried Chicken Day (July 6), the robot has been dubbed H.A.R.L.A.N.D., a nod to the real Colonel’s first name. According to KFC, H.A.R.L.A.N.D. stands for “Human Assisted Robotic Linguistic Animatronic Networked Device.” Using voice recognition software, the robot is able to transform a KFC drive-thru operator’s voice into the “unmistakeable drawl of Colonel Sanders.”
Only select KFC customers have had the chance to actually interact with H.A.R.L.A.N.D., but the chain has created a video in partnership with Funny or Die to show off just how cutting edge he is.
In the tongue-in-cheek video, which mocks society’s obsession with all things tech, a “futurologist” named Bertrand Kline voices concerns over whether H.A.R.L.A.N.D. may be too advanced for its own good. But interviews with robotics experts, KFC staffers and customers of the fast-food chain reveal that most are relatively unfazed by H.A.R.L.A.N.D.’s capabilities – for instance, at one point, Kline can’t seem to understand why one woman’s hands aren’t trembling after seeing a “glimpse into the future.”
KFC is also partnering with ABC’s ‘Jimmy Kimmel Live!’ to promote H.A.R.L.A.N.D. during tonight’s episode.
The stunt, created in partnership with Wieden+Kennedy’s design engineering group W+K Lodge, is just one of many that KFC has rolled out over the past few months. Last month, the chain sent a fried chicken sandwich into space. The brand has also become known for creating bizarre fried chicken scented products like sunscreen, nail polish and candles.
In the UK, the brand recently rolled out a spot starring ‘Game of Thrones’ Kristian Nairn to promote its new chicken and rice box.