Brandable: When Times Get Tough, At Least There's Fried Chicken
Unsplash.com / Luo Lei
It can be hard—err, sometimes near impossible—to resist the deliciousness of a classic fried chicken sandwich. Fast-food chain Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, home to a variety of chicken dishes, knows this, which is why it celebrated the one-year anniversary of its fried chicken sandwich with a Times Square countdown reminiscent of New York City’s annual ball drop. Popeyes Chicken Sandwich—an extra-crispy chicken filet nestled between a brioche bun and topped with pickles and mayo—grew quickly in popularity after the chain tweeted “Y’all good?” to its fans during the pandemic as a way to check on its customers, and also following a social media “chicken sandwich war” after KFC introduced its new KFC Chicken Sandwich, which bears an uncanny resemblance to Popeyes’ sandwich. This is the first sandwich item that Popeyes has offered since its now-discontinued chicken po-boy in 2003, writes The New Yorker, and needless to say, fans were excited for the new addition.
To celebrate the sandwich, but more importantly, to distract its fans with some humor and positivity, and create a way to bring them together, the chain hosted a summertime countdown in Times Square to metaphorically “end” 2020 early and start fresh with 2021. The festivities were held on August 19 and Popeyes offered free delivery to commemorate it, and the eatery boldly displayed brand messaging in Midtown with digital advertisements projected on buildings.
Popeyes likely chose its chicken sandwich to be the front-and-center focus of the effort because it’s been so well-received. The chain has sold 203 million of the sandwiches within the first year, and during the first week after it was introduced in August 2019, it saw 338,000 conversations about the brand and its sandwich on Twitter, according to Marketing Dive. The sandwich has also helped the company maintain sales throughout the pandemic. Sales dropped 25 percent for Popeyes’ parent company Restaurant Brands International Inc., which also owns Tim Horton and Burger King, but Popeyes’ same-store sales—the total dollar amount of sales by Popeyes’ stores that have been in business for one year or more—grew 24.8 percent during the second quarter, ending June 30, 2020, courtesy of the Popeyes Chicken Sandwich. The same-store sales of the other chains in the group, Tim Horton and Burger King, decreased 29.3 percent and 13.4 percent, respectively, during the second quarter, according to MSN.
Danielle Renda is associate editor of PPB.