Gut contributed marketing to Popeyes' chicken sandwich debut in 2019, which sparked the so-called chicken sandwich wars that saw competitors across the fast food industry stepping up their chicken sandwich efforts.
“As an agency, we have achieved many milestones with Popeyes, and we’re grateful for all of the campaigns and projects we’ve created with the brand,” Gut shared in a statement. “Most importantly, we’re thankful to have worked with the amazing people on Popeyes' team, all of whom we will miss, and we wish them the best. We’re looking forward to continuing our work with all of our other clients and for the many opportunities that lie ahead for us in 2023.”
Even if temporary, working on Popeyes is part of the continued momentum at McKinney, which won creative agency of record duties for Blue Diamond in May. McKinney also recently acquired influencer marketing agency August United.
Popeyes became ‘a victim of its success’
From January to September 2022, Popeyes spent $120.5 million on U.S. measured media, according to Vivvix. For all of 2021, Popeyes spent $163.3 million on measured media.
Popeyes systemwide sales grew by 9.4% in 2022, buoyed by 10.4% unit growth. Comparable store sales rose 1.4%, slower growth than two of its Restaurant Brands International sibling brands, Burger King and Tim Hortons.
Patrick Doyle, the newly named executive chairman at Restaurant Brands International, in a conference call with analysts this month praised Popeyes’ food but said the brand was in need of greater simplicity in its kitchens. The success of its chicken sandwich exposed the shortcomings in its kitchens, making Popeyes “a victim of its success,” Doyle said.
“Popeyes is an amazing brand,” Doyle said. “We need to make it easier for people to do business with Popeyes. That means faster speed of service. That means just a simpler, easier kitchen that's going to play into that [and] frankly, will make it easier for people to work there to give better hospitality, all of those sorts of things.”
Contributing: Jon Springer