Art Streiber on shooting KFC’s campaign featuring the “new” Colonel, “Mad Men” star Vincent Kartheiser


Photo by Art Streiber for KFC.


To herald the return of Nashville Hot Chicken to its menu, KFC recently rolled out an ad campaign introducing “heartthrob Nashville Hot Colonel,” whom Mad Men fans will recognize as Pete Campbell—a.k.a. actor Vincent Kartheiser. The campaign, by Wieden+Kennedy, was shot by Art Streiber, who discusses below how he approached the shoot.

“Colonel Harland David Sanders founded Kentucky Fried Chicken in 1930 and was the fast-food chain’s iconic spokesperson and brand ambassador until his death, in 1980. Even after his passing, a line drawing of the Colonel’s face is still the logo for the brand.

But over the last few years, Wieden+Kennedy have been cooking up new versions of the Colonel to invigorate the brand, and I was fortunate enough to photograph their latest incarnation—the Nashville Hot Colonel!

Vincent Kartheiser was chosen to play the ‘younger, sexier’ Colonel, a rock & roll teen idol from the late 1950s.

To prepare for the shoot, I did a lot of picture research and found several great archival images of Elvis, Buddy Holly, and Ricky Nelson that became the inspiration for our shoot.

We worked alongside the broadcast component of the ad campaign, at John Marshall High School in the Los Feliz neighborhood of Los Angeles. Marshall opened in 1931 and looks and feels like a classic, traditional midcentury American high school.

We set up shop in the dance studio and put up and lit three different colored seamless backdrops in order to have a variety of lighting options ready to go whenever Kartheiser could get away from the broadcast set.

In order to emulate the lighting look of portraiture from the late 1950s, we used Fresnel housings on our strobes, which gave just the right hard/soft feeling.

Kartheiser was a fantastic subject who shook, rattled, and rolled like a pro, and it was an honor for me to update an iconic American brand.”

Read more about the campaign at



Photo by Art Streiber for KFC.


Photo by Art Streiber for KFC.


Photo by Art Streiber for KFC.

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