'Colonel Sanders' reincarnates a third time for the Super Bowl

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Comedian Jim Gaffigan takes over the role from Norm McDonald

During the Super Bowl pregame Sunday, KFC will introduce the third "real" Colonel Sanders in its meta-campaign that casts celebrity impersonators of the fast-food chain’s iconic founder.

Assuming the white suit is standup comedian Jim Gaffigan, who will debut in a spot titled "Dream": Gaffigan’s Sanders awakes from a nightmare in which his predecessor Norm McDonald has assumed the Colonel’s identity to take credit for KFC’s new Nashville Hot Chicken.

The new ad will air during the CBS broadcast of Sunday's pregame and in the second half of the game’s livestream. A companion spot, titled "Nightmare," will launch later this month.

"When I found out Colonel Norm was all a dream and the Real Colonel Sanders is Jim Gaffigan, I was stunned." said KFC US CMO Kevin Hochman in a statement that captures the existential theme of the campaign. "But then I ate some of our new Nashville Hot Chicken and it was all good. If the fans want to see Colonel Norm they can go to YouTube. I did."

KFC in May launched a series of ads created by Wieden + Kennedy Portland featuring comedian Darrell Hammond as the return of Colonel Sanders. In a performance that toed the line between tribute and mockery, Hammond mimicked the accent and the trademark giggle of the chain’s founder, who passed away in 1980 at the age of 90

KFC in May launched a series of ads created by Wieden + Kennedy Portland featuring comedian Darrell Hammond as the return of Colonel Sanders. In a performance that toed the line between tribute and mockery, Hammond mimicked the accent and the trademark giggle of the chain’s founder, who passed away in 1980 at the age of 90.

Explaining that "I've been gone for a while — and boy howdy, have things changed!" Hammond’s Sanders mused about cultural innovations during his absence while pointing out the core values of KFC that remain consistent.

In August, KFC  took the impersonation to a new level with a fresh raft of ads that featured Macdonald assuming the role — and dismissing his predecessor as an imposter.