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Lions Roar : May 2018
that was birthing alongside Virginia Slims—all in order to hock chicken pot pies, of all things—just how unimagi- nable would, say, cigarette marketing that quotes the Buddha be? When breathing in, know: that’s real tobacco flavor! When breathing out, know: it’s smooth! Okay, I’m being at least a little face- tious. But the launch of KFC’s “Comfort Zone” YouTube videos—which depict Colonel Sanders reborn as a multiplicity of spinning, pot-pie-headed meditators leading us through a kaleidoscopic outer/ inner-space realm on a psychonautic Meditation, you’ve come a long way, baby. I don’t mean just to be glib when I invoke the famous Virginia Slims ciga- rettes tagline, which debuted in 1968 to take advantage of the surging women’s movement. Because, really: when a global fast-food giant invests in thirty-five min- utes’ worth of videos that parlay tropes from meditation, Eastern religion, secular mindfulness, and the very counterculture FROM WHERE I SIT Even the Colonel Is Meditating Meditation is getting mainstream enough to attract the attention of big league advertisers. Good news or the beginning of the end? ROD MEADE SPERRY analyzes the latest videos from KFC. quest for savory meat pastry—do make one wonder just how far things might go. The ads, which range from three- plus to about nine minutes long, are the work of Wieden + Kennedy, an agency renowned for its willingness to be weird. But these take things up a notch. Blend- ing highbrow and lowbrow, stoner humor—I think we now know at least one of the “11 herbs and spices” in the Colonel’s secret recipe—and philosophi- cal references, these videos are about as bizarre as advertising to the masses gets. That this kind of well-funded and brazen co-optation is coming at us from CULTURE • LIFE • PRACTICE ROD MEADE SPERRY is editorial director of special projects for Lion’s Roar and co- author, with Miguel Chen, of I Wanna Be Well: How a Punk Found Peace and You Can Too. LION’S ROAR | MAY 2018 13