The Great Chicken Sandwich Wars of 2019 & the Future of Social Media Marketing
The Amazon rain forest is on fire, anti-government protests in Hong Kong have lasted into their fifteen week, and the risks of a No-Deal Brexit loom large over the United Kingdom, but all pale in comparison to the month’s biggest story.
Popeyes says they make the best chicken sandwich.
This clash of American fast-food titans regarding the supremacy of their respective chicken sandwiches has brought the internet to its knees. It has also illuminated the role social media plays in today’s marketing landscape.
What… What happened?
The Great Chicken Sandwich Wars of 2019 began on 12th August with the following tweet from fried chicken fast-food chain Popeyes:
The tweet seemed innocuous enough. A restaurant that makes fried chicken unveiled a sandwich with fried chicken in it, and humorously attempted to tell customers that it was good.
It turned out, however, that Popeyes’ claim to chicken sandwich superiority tread on the turf of established chicken sandwich heavyweights Chic-fil-A and Wendy’s, both of whom perceived the tweet as a slight. They responded in kind with sharp, clucking rebuttals, and the escalation quickly snowballed.
What has ensued has been a veritable cacophony of snarky sub-tweeting, salty shade-throwing, savage clap-backing, and dank-meme-referencing that has drawn in co-belligerents Church’s Chicken and Shake Shack and split the Twitter-verse into factions as each camp entrenches themselves for conflict ahead.
Wait. Chicken sandwiches?
Yes. Chicken sandwiches.
Why the Great Chicken Sandwich War of 2019 matters
The Great Chicken Sandwich Wars of 2019 did more than expose the divisions between fans of different take-out restaurants. In the grander scheme of things, it exposed the changing landscape of social media marketing.
In today’s marketing climate, engagement with users on social platforms is one of the best ways to establish brand identity online. This means that many brands try to replicate the tone, language, and delivery of social media’s most popular personalities.
Twitter has become the de facto home of brand personality quirks. This owes a lot to the platform’s atmosphere of immediacy and virality. A particularly amusing off-hand remark can rack up tens of thousands of retweets in hours and reach an audience of millions.
How did Popeyes benefit from it all?
The Great Chicken Sandwich War of 2019 turns out to be a prime example of the success of this kind of persona-based marketing. Since the announcement tweet that set off this fast-food fracas, Popeyes has boasted a 1,000% surge in Google searches for “Popeyes chicken sandwich”.
The theoretical total value of media mentions generated by Popeyes’ Twitter feuds has been estimated at over $23 million USD. What’s more, Popeyes didn’t spend a single dime in paid advertising for that kind of exposure. No corresponding ad campaigns or celebrity sponsorships helped the tweets gain exposure. Just one tweet and some friendly bickering between take-out sandwich makers was it all took to create a social marketing phenomenon.
Ultimately, Popeyes has wound up selling more chicken sandwiches than they can keep pace with. They have since tweeted multiple times that they’ve sold out and are labouring to restock. The chicken sandwich craze has even hastened efforts by other fast-food titans such as McDonald’s and Buffalo Wild Wings to get on board with their own chicken sandwiches while the public is primed for them.
What’s clear for now is that the Great Chicken Sandwich Wars of 2019 have had no losers and many winners.
But for real, though. Chicken sandwiches?
Yes. Chicken sandwiches.
Social media marketing is all about identity
When it comes to social media marketing, striking the right balance is key. Pure SEO combines strategic social media advertising with engaging ad creative and engaging posts to build your brand profile and engage with the people most interested in your business. Contact Pure SEO today to get started!
Rollan Schott is a copywriter with Pure SEO. Rollan was born and raised in the United States, having moved to New Zealand after 4 years teaching and writing in Asia. When he's not churning out quality content at breakneck speed, Rollan is probably busy writing the next great American novel. He may also be idly watching true crime documentaries in his Auckland Central apartment with his wife, Lauren. The latter is more likely than the former.