The Chicken Sandwich Wars Heat Up On Social Media

August 26, 2019 Sarah Cavill


At first, Popeyes kept it cute and simple: “Chicken. Brioche. Pickles. New sandwich.” So good, the company couldn’t speak in complete sentences. Accompanied by a mouth-watering pic, the Tweet seemed harmless enough, until Chick-fil-A clapped back with a coy response asserting themselves as the original pickle + chicken sandwich purveyors. After that the chicken wars were officially on, roping in Wendy’s (the boss of Twitter snark), Church’s Chicken and Shake Shack.

“We noticed a lot of organic conversation about the sandwich and we decided to have a little bit of fun along with our guests,” said Felipe Athayde, Popeyes President for the Americas. “There’s a lot of enthusiasm for our brand.”

Snarky Brand Voices Are Fun On Twitter — Sometimes

Twitter has evolved as the place for brands to let their freak flags fly. Even playful, aggressive marketers, like Taco Bell, tend to treat Facebook as a place for straightforward sales pitches, but Twitter is another game entirely. Poking fun at customers and themselves or being sassy with another brand like Popeyes and Chick-fil-A are ways in which brands have changed their relationships with consumers, likely because of the real-time call-and-response nature of Twitter. Millennials and younger consumers, in particular, often gravitate to brands with personality. Brands should be cautious, however, not to overdo it. Social media users tire of trends quickly and the snarky brand approach is annoying for some users, who prefer friendly, responsive brand voices.

The Chicken Sandwich Wars Bring Followers And A Sales Bump But First-Party Engagement Is Best

Popeyes Chicken Sandwich

Although Chick-fil-A is the undisputed king of chicken sandwiches, with $5.7 million in sales annually from free-standing stores versus an average of $1.5 million at Popeyes, the snarky Twitter spat generated a nice uptick (25,000) in Twitter followers for Popeyes. And while the publicity from the Tweet-off also drove interest for Popeyes new sandwich , which has sold out in several stores and generated lines around the block, new Twitter followers are a somewhat weak metric when it comes to long-term sales growth. “In general, a follower is less valuable for a brand than a regular person or influencer,” said Sean Spielberg, Co-Founder and CEO of Instascreener, an influencer marketing firm. There are estimates that Popeyes has generated “$23.25 million in equivalent ad value, across digital, print, social, TV and radio in just 11 days,” which illustrates that a Tweet storm can be good for a short-term bump or promotion, but a well-rounded multichannel marketing strategy that is inclusive of subscriber acquisition for future first-party engagement efforts, is likely a better approach for sustained sales.

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About the Author

Sarah Cavill

With more than 20 years of writing, editing and reporting experience, Sarah Cavill brings to Digital Media Solutions (DMS) a fine-tuned and diverse set of skills. Her work has been featured in notable publications including The Daily Muse, CBS Local, Techlicious and Glamour magazine. Sarah has a passion for current events and the deep-dive research that goes into the content development and brand identity of DMS Insights. In her role as Senior Marketing Communications Writer, Sarah contributes to the pitching, researching and writing of multiple stories published each week surrounding digital and performance marketing innovations in pop culture, news, social media, branding and advertising.

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