Popeyes and its controversial marketing strategy against Chick-fil-A
By: Paolino De Francesco
Can you believe that a fast food restaurant like Popeyes ran out of buns? Well, this was the case when Popeyes came out with their new chicken sandwich in early August; however, no one at Popeyes thought that it was going to be such an uproarious success. The chain sold out of a seven-week supply within a matter of days. This was both exciting and somewhat embarrassing. Moreover, the sandwich was such in high demand that Popeyes’ solution was for customers to bring their own bun. Additionally, some Popeyes employees would give their sandwiches for free because managers felt so sorry for disappointing their costumers.
In light of the high demand for the sandwich, Popeyes decided to come up with a marketing strategy. They looked at the calendar and noticed that National Sandwich Day fell on Sunday, November 3rd. Thus, Popeyes came out with a very controversial advertisement. In a short YouTube video, a highway sign showing Popeyes and Chick-fil-A’s names is updated to add the words “open Sunday” under Popeyes, next to the “closed Sunday” under Chick-fil-A. What this twenty-second long ad mostly does is mock Chick-fil-A since they do not open their restaurants on Sunday due to religious observance. Some might find this move offensive, an affront to Chick-fil-A’s Christianity, others might just take it lightly and just laugh at it, as I did. Besides, most of Chick-fil-A’s rage towards this move is because they claim that they “invented” the chicken sandwich. Obviously, Chick-fil-A didn’t invent the chicken sandwich, they just say that due to their marketing model.
Although National Sandwich Day was on a Sunday, Chick-fil-A tried to promote their sandwiches by sending an email to its subscribers. “‘Calling all sandwich lovers,’ the email that also promoted the Chick-fil-A One program said, ‘Some prefer it grilled, others fancy the original. No matter which Chick-fil-A sandwich you love, order yours on November 3 for National Sandwich Day.’” The company was quick to acknowledge the error and sent out another email to apologize. “‘We recently sent an email that included a message about National Sandwich Day, which naturally we were very excited about,’ the email reads. ‘We didn’t realize it falls on Sunday when we are closed. We apologize for the confusion and hope to see you soon (Monday-Saturday).’” To fix this, “Chick-fil-A poked fun at its own mistake. “‘The cows sometimes get over-eager on their quest for self-preservation,’ Chick-fil-A said in the statement. ‘They have been reminded that Sundays are off-limits.’’
I know that if you are like me, you probably question why Chick-fil-A closes on Sunday. And the thing is that “‘they don’t shy away from being family-focused, and they don’t shy away from being mission-driven,’ Adam Chandler, author of a book on fast food, told Business Insider. ‘If there’s one thing that everybody knows about Chick-fil-A, it is that it is closed on Sunday.’”
At the end of the day, these events are products of public relations and marketing strategies. We see this all the time, for example, in ads for mobile services, like Verizon Communications Inc., claiming that they have higher speeds than Sprint and vice-versa. Campaigns focused on economic competition are nothing new, especially, in the digital age. In the meantime, I will try to get my hands on Popeyes controversial sandwich.
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