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The Chicken Sandwich Wars and Brand Personalities

It all started with a Tweet. Suddenly the battle that nobody saw coming was in full swing, and out of nowhere, people were lining up at Popeye’s left and right. This whirlwind has left everyone wondering: how exactly did Popeye’s go from a nondescript fast food joint to a suitable rival for Chick-Fil-A? As usual, the answer is simple: social media.

15 Minutes of Fame

Similar to Dunkin Donuts and IHOP changing their names, Popeye’s chose the viral marketing stunt route. Surprisingly, the debate began with a tweet by Chick-Fil-A, which was quickly and hilariously followed up by a response from Popeye’s marketing executive. This set off a conversation that would go on for weeks. The post was retweeted 87.7K times and received 325K likes. Evidently, Popeye’s came out with the win, with $65 million in marketing revenue in less than a month.

Brand Personalities

Brands are no longer just companies selling to us. They’ve adopted online personas and can interact with consumers in a way that’s kind of eerie; one voice becomes the spokesperson for an entire franchise made up of millions of people. It’s easy for people to get involved in online conversations with brands, especially fast food joints like Taco Bell, Wendy’s, and Jimmy John’s. They talk the way we talk. They take on approachable, comical, and sarcastic tones that can easily be converted into memes or other reshareable images. 

The best thing for brands like Chick-Fil-A and Popeye’s, in this interesting time of social media popularity contests, is to say something unexpected online so that they become the topic of conversation. Obviously, it worked for Popeye’s.

The Importance of Online Engagement

Some companies undervalue the importance of social media engagement. But the effect it can have on a business is huge, if you do it correctly. Almost anything can be brought into the spotlight, with the right voice and brand personality. Here’s how you can improve your online presence in 3 ways:

1. Be Consistent

It’s important to know what people are talking about so you can engage with them in a way that they can relate to. One of the ways to do this is be consistent. Strike up online conversations with small, medium, and large accounts on a daily basis. Post often, go live, and use all the tools of the app to engage.

2. Weigh in on Popular Topics

Sometimes brands can get out of hand with the things they say online, and this can lead to trouble. Be honest, but not too honest. You want your followers to get the sense that you’re being transparent without revealing too much. Maybe it’s not relevant for your company to join in on the chicken sandwich wars, but there is something else out there that your brand can have a say in.

3. Create Brand Personas

Brand personas are a great way to visualize the types of consumers interested in your product. Come up with three or four “types” of people that might buy your product. List their values, personality type, lifestyle, philosophies, fears, goals, etc. This helps you adjust your voice and content to target the right audience.

The Chicken Sandwich Wars Are Not Over Yet

Although Popeye’s has sold out of their legendary sandwich, Wendy’s has joined in on the debate. There’s no doubt that more brands will start to interact the same way with their rivals and consumers to garner attention and sales.

It’s difficult to predict exactly what will go viral on social media. If it’s not Area 51 memes, it’s chicken sandwiches. You have to really understand your audience in order to achieve the massive success that Popeye’s did, and stay one step ahead of everyone else. And although it does say something somewhat negative about our society’s values, it is a great marketing tactic for companies to try to replicate, if they have the right product.