Each month, Ad Age creates and shares an exclusive case study with Ad Age Insider subscribers. This month, Ad Age Studio 30 contributing writer Michael Applebaum examines how the major events in the chicken sandwich wars unfolded. Already an Insider? Instantly download the case study here. Or learn more about Ad Age membership levels and benefits here.
Popeyes, Chick-fil-A and Wendy’s are not exactly fine-feathered friends. But Popeyes’ new fried chicken sandwich—and its deft PR, online video and social media strategies—certainly challenged the pecking order of those rival chains.
On August 12, Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen introduced the chicken sandwich, a no-frills $3.99 latecomer in a crowded segment of the fast food market. Just 15 days later, Popeyes realized it was running out of the chicken much faster than anticipated and temporarily pulled the item from its menus.
Rather than try to contain the PR crisis, Popeyes used the ensuing frenzy to increase demand. On August 27, the company posted a video on its official Twitter account thanking customers for their fanatical devotion to the sandwich, stitching together clips of customers gobbling the sandwich with news reports of the long lines and “Sold Out” window signs posted at Popeyes locations. The chain announced it had run out of the sandwich, but that it would be back.