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As KFC promises to launch sandwich into space, Rob Lowe stars as the new Colonel Sanders

Rob Lowe, the West Wing, Parks and Recreation and Austin Powers actor, is KFC's new colonel, and stars in an ad for its new Zinger chicken sandwich that hits outlets in the U.S. today.

He wears an astronaut's outfit in a new ad featuring a press conference to launch the new product, appearing as Mission Commander Colonel Sanders in the 90-second spot, and says it's time to "push KFC's spicy, crispy chicken to new heights."

The twist with this launch is that Lowe promises viewers that the burger will actually be sent into space, and it has to work because "our entire marketing campaign depends on it." The Zinger is a best-seller in 120 countries, said KFC's U.S. President and Chief Concept Officer Kevin Hochman in an online statement.

In a tweet, KFC said: "This June, we will launch the Zinger chicken sandwich into space. On April 24, you can launch the Zinger into your mouth at KFC."

Lowe has connections to the brand that go back to his childhood. "My grandfather was the head of the Ohio chapter of the National Restaurant Association in the 1960s and took me to meet Colonel Harland Sanders when I was a kid," he said in an online statement.

"It was a big deal. I thought this would be a nice homage to both Colonel Sanders and to my grandfather. Plus, we're sending the Zinger chicken sandwich to space. You kind of can't beat that."

Other famous colonels include actor Billy Zane, who became the "Solid Gold Colonel" to promote Georgia Gold chicken in January, and Mad Man star Vincent Kartheiser who became the "Nashville Colonel" in October 2016. George Hamilton, famous for his sun-kissed skin, became the "Extra Crispy" colonel last summer.

Rob Lowe as KFC's Colonel Sanders
KFC
Rob Lowe as KFC's Colonel Sanders

How the new product is launched into space remains to be seen, but the chief executive of KFC's parent company Yum Brands is looking to future technology, telling CNBC last month that fast-food restaurants could feature A.I. and robots in the next decade.

In February, Yum Brands said KFC's same-store sales were up 3 percent in the fourth quarter of 2016, while sister company Pizza Hut saw a 2 percent decline over the same period.

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