How Popeyes jumped on Beyoncé's pop culture moment

For Hispanic Heritage Month, Gut's Global Chief Client Officer Carmen Rodriguez recalls how the project transformed the agency's fortunes

Published On
Oct 06, 2022
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Editor's Pick

Continuing our Hispanic Heritage Month Celebration of Creative Excellence, our next guest editor is Carmen Rodriguez, managing director, global chief client officer and partner at Gut.  Rodriguez is responsible for managing the operations of the Miami office, which is Gut's global headquarters, as well as leading the agency’s new business practice, while establishing long-standing relationships with its clients, including Popeyes, Philadelphia Cream Cheese, Visible, AB InBev, Google and others.

Born in Brazil with Hispanic heritage—her father was born in El Salvador and moved to Brazil to go to med school—Rodriguez is also one of the most awarded account management leaders in the industry and in 2020 was named as one of Ad Age's Leading Women.

GUT's Carmen Rodriguez

Here, Rodriguez shares a campaign for Popeyes that jumped on a pop culture moment in January 2020 when Beyoncé debuted the limited-edition sportswear line Ivy Park x Adidas. It featured a distinctive maroon and orange palette that some quickly noticed bore a striking resemblance to Popeyes' uniforms. Gut put Popeyes line of worker attire up for sale for a limited time, highlighting their similarities to Beyonce’s wares. The brand ultimately garnered $30K from fans wanting to get in on “That Look.”

Cultivating a strong culture among our Gut team, as well as trustworthy relationships across each of our clients around the world, and being able to help grow our business across the network, are the main reasons why I love what I do each and every day. This Hispanic Heritage Month, I’m also reflecting on how much our team has grown over the years, and I’m especially proud that at Gut Miami, minorities are the majority, particularly from both the Hispanic and Latinx communities. This has to do with our belief that diversity drives creativity; the more diverse we are, the more creative we can be. It’s a never-ending goal. So as of today, and in addition to being Latinx and Hispanic-founded, Gut Miami is 67% Hispanic, and all our Global Partners are also Latinx, hailing from Argentina, Ecuador and Brazil. 

All of our clients and campaigns we’ve worked on have been meaningful in different ways, but I want to highlight that winning the Popeyes account, Gut Miami’s first agency of record appointment, completely changed the course of the agency and impacted the way we were able to grow. To name one of the numerous projects we have done together, I will go with our “That Look” project, in which we jumped on the pop culture moment involving Beyoncé and her sportswear line that bore a striking resemblance to Popeyes uniforms. We put the worker attire on sale for a limited time to draw attention to the similarity.

It was a huge moment for us to win Popeyes and to continue to work with amazing clients there who allow us to push the boundaries of creativity, as well as trust us implicitly to create bold ideas together; Popeyes is the definition of what it means to be a brave client. It’s also personally meaningful that many of our current and former clients there have represented the Hispanic and Latinx communities, including Patrícia Pieranti, Alexandre Antonello, and Fernando Machado. 

“That Look” holds a special place in our hearts and is definitely significant for both Gut and for me and my career. The formula to make that idea happen was necessary but also very simple: us understanding the brand inside and out, the ability to work at the speed of culture, and having a strong relationship with our clients to make it all come to life.

The result was unimaginable for a then barely two-year-old agency. “That Look” won multiple honors across the industry awards circuit – the first year Gut won any award ever – from the D&AD, One Show, and at Cannes Lions, winning Gold, Silver and Bronze Lions for this idea. “That Look” also helped us become the Cannes Lions Track Independent Agency Of The Year in Reach. On top of that, we were named the #7 Ad Age A-List Agency of the Year and won a Tiny but Mighty honor at the Creativity Awards in 2021 thanks to Popeyes and this project – also both firsts for us.

Since that time, we’ve been able to work together with them on many other campaigns and projects, including “We Come In Piece,” the brand’s launch of its new chicken nuggets, which won Best Brand Launch in the Ad Age & Creativity Awards 2022. I’m proud of everything we’ve done together with this amazing client, and I’m excited to launch even bigger campaigns together in the near future.