• Lessons Learned from the Chicken Sandwich War

    Chicken Armageddon Has Begun

    Here’s the Backstory: 

    Popeyes recently decided to start fast-food Armageddon by unleashing their new chicken sandwich. 

    Now anyone who knows anything about fast-food understands that Chic-fil-A, who claims to be the originator of the chicken sandwich, has dominated the battle for chicken sandwich king forever. Don’t believe me? Just look at their results. They are the third-largest fast-food chain in the country, and are on the coattails of Starbucks. Yes, the $3.95 for the tall Mocha Frappuccino. That Starbucks. 

    Chic-fil-a, like a good southern chain, came back with the good ole “bless their heart” post, and the rest is history. Users are scurrying to chains across the country to cast their vote and get in on the conversation. 

    Who wins?

    Popeyes. Wendys. Chick-fil-a. I know, you’re asking how did Wendy’s get involved in this conversation? Well, because Wendy’s is sticking to their brand. No, not the spicy nugget haven of goodness. Their other brand—the snarky and witty fast-food social media champion. They quickly threw themselves in the debate. And even when Popeyes fired back, Wendy’s was well prepared to release a “Wendy’s” style response.


    Now one may ask, why do Chic-fil-a and Popeyes both win? It’s simple. The sandwich has elevated Popeyes’ “weight class” in the franchise food battle. They are playing with the big dogs, and some may even say they won the first round. Meanwhile, Chic-fil-a need not do anything but keep frying their sandwiches. Their customers and brand loyalists will do the rest. Chic-fil-a has proven that they can weather and turn it into a vacation. 

    Who Loses?

    Bojangles. Now, I know what you’re thinking. First Wendy’s and now Bojangles. Where did they come from? Welp, that is what everyone else is trying to figure out. Everyone has tried to get in the kitchen and fry up their best post with their version of the chicken sandwich. Sadly, Bojangles’ is a casualty of a poor strategy.  Their lackluster post, and terrible imagery forced them to delete the tweet and withdraw from the competition. 

    Three Easy Lessons:

    1. Stick to your brand voice. Your audience knows when your compromising authenticity and will call it out! 
    2. Brand influencers win again. The right people and communities behind you can amplify your brand experience.  
    3. Stakeholder engagement is an art. The right pictures, the right time, the right hashtags, the right copy. A thoughtful strategy isn’t optional. If you can’t do it—leave it to the professionals. 

    About Corey Briscoe

    Corey Briscoe, managing partner, leads operations at ABCD & Company in Rockville, Maryland. You can visit his Twitter page @ccbglobal to see more of his thought leadership or contact him via email with inquiries. He’s looking forward to hearing from you!

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