The objective of this campaign was to increase the hype—and therefore sales—around Popeyes first Chicken Sandwich.
It wasn’t going to be easy. Popeyes was very late to the chicken sandwich game. And this highly competitive market had long been dominated by Chick-fil-A, who owned over 50% of the chicken sandwich market despite being closed on Sundays.
Because they were Chick-fil-A was the leader, that’s who we had to steal attention and market share from.
Market testing showed that Popeyes sandwich out-flavored the competition. So we kept our strategy simple: let our food (and fans) do all the talking. We wanted people to “believe the hype.”
This strategy was grounded in one clear truth: The Chicken Sandwich hype was pre-existing and entirely organic—it just needed to be stoked with social listening and real-time responses. We knew that championing our core fans, the voices that matter most, would create a ripple effect and bring awareness not only to our chicken sandwich but to Popeyes as a whole.
We laid the groundwork early to deliver on this strategy, leading a Popeyes social summit, which established clear focus and guidelines around our social presence, including our unique voice and core audience.
We also doubled down on Twitter as our space to play. This is where our ride-or-die fans thrive creatively, fueling the cultural engine for our real-time response strategy. Being successful on Twitter meant taking calculated risks, leaning in and pushing boundaries.
And it meant we had to act fast.
So we created Code Orange, a system that used text messaging and WhatsApp to enabled quick and seamless communication with key stakeholders in social, creative, account, production, legal and client. This allowed us to act decisively on the right real-time cultural moments.
While building the Chicken Sandwich campaign, we took a grassroots, listen-first approach. As the sandwich made its way through various test markets, we tracked small spikes in positive mentions and monitored conversations to inform our larger, 360-degree campaign.
And because we’d been listening carefully on social, we also knew Chick-fil-A was a guilty pleasure for many people who disagreed with their conservative stances. So by the time the sandwich went nationwide on August 12, we knew the right tweet could unleash an army. We just needed the right moment.
A week later, our moment came in the form of one insecurity-riddled tweet from Chick-fil-A: “Bun + Chicken + Pickles = all the [heart emoji] for the original”.
Using the process we had in place, we quickly responded with a perfectly on brand, “...y’all good?”
Thanks to meticulous planning and a well-executed, real-time tweet, we incited the #ChickenWars, brought the Popeyes brand to new heights and solidified Popeyes Chicken Sandwich’s place in pop culture.
The “tweet heard around the world” (Business Insider) put Popeyes Chicken Sandwich in the center of culture, elevating Popeyes as a major player in the highly competitive QSR category.
Black Twitter made memes, celebrities posted without getting paid, talk show hosts joked, lines wrapped around the block—and Popeyes saw its best sales in two decades (CNBC).
During the two weeks after Popeyes tweeted, the brand got 178 times more twitter mentions than the same period last year (Crimson Hexagon + Brandwatch).
And Popeyes added more Twitter followers the week of “...y’all good?” than it did in the first half of 2019 plus all of 2018 and 2017 combined (Forbes).
We became the top Google search and earned 8 billion impressions worth $87 million in media value, according to Cision.
The week after the tweet, Popeyes increased its market share 30% (Restaurant Business Online). This was the largest QSR market share increase ever tracked by analytics firm Sense360.
Sandwich sales were 16 times more than projected (Forbes), which led to Popeyes selling out of their 10-week sandwich supply in eight days (internal data).
Weeks later, Popeyes Chicken Sandwich returned on National Sandwich Day (which was a Sunday when Chick-Fil-A is closed, a fact that delighted Twitter once again). Excitement—and sales—continued at all-time highs.
Store traffic shot up 256% after the tweet and again at +300% during the relaunch, finally stabilizing in December at 40% higher than before this tweet (Sense360).
Not bad for a 2-word, unpaid tweet.
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