(Courtesy of Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen)

Since its Aug. 12, 2019, debut, the Popeye’s fried chicken sandwich has been quite the craze. This frenzy was no accident: GUT, Popeyes’ Louisiana Kitchen’s marketing agency, implemented some seriously effective strategy with impeccable timing and grace over the past six months. 

In deconstructing a strategy utilized by a fast food chain to create hype around their sandwich, we gain a deeper insight into how we can push the boundaries and limitations within our own organizations. 

Let’s look at three things we can take away from Popeyes’ methods to help our own branding in 2020: 

1. Bring in the personality

In looking at Popeye’s Twitter account, it takes all of 30 seconds to hear the sassy, southern voice every post speaks with. It’s relatable, snarky, seemingly unfiltered and gives a feel for the personality behind each post. This personality is iconic to their brand and gives something fans relate to and engage with in fun ways. So, how can we have a better personality in our own brands? 

  • Get clear on who your audience is and speak to them in a way that’s relatable. 
  • Consider taking a more conversational tone.
  • Be BOLD; don’t be afraid to try something new.
  • Be playful. Having fun is a great way to keep the brand voice from getting too boring.

2. A sense of humor goes a long way

After Popeyes released their chicken sandwich, Chick-fil-A, the self-proclaimed inventor of the chicken sandwich, was quick to tweet a passive aggressive response, to which Popeyes responded, “…Y’all Good?” 

Hilarious, simple — and brilliant. 

Fans jumped at the opportunity to make fun of Chick-fil-A, and so began a social media battle between the two rivals. Not to mention Popeyes sold out of their chicken sandwich almost immediately and has since managed to maintain attention on the new sandwich for months.

 Being funny goes a long way. In the age of social media, transparency has continued to grow in value for consumers. Raw, unedited controversy is perfect for social platforms, when previously many brands benefitted from keeping a generic, professional tone to garnish public respect. 

Laughter is a universal language and one of our first communication methods. Before we had spoken or written language, humans used laughter to express our enjoyment or accession with a certain situation,” writes Angie Pascale for ClickZ. 

What are some ways we can bring humor into brand identity? 

  • Poke fun at yourself and other brands. Being in the middle of a joke allows you to own your own script.
  • People love puns. So much, in fact, that there have been papers written on decoding exactly why puns are funny.
  • Less is more. The more room you give readers for their imaginations to run wild, the better.
  • According to Gold Comedy, know your message, pinpoint what you think is funny about it, keep it short and do your research. 

3. Responding to social trends in creative ways

Popeye’s brilliant ideas didn’t stop with social media battles and witty remarks. 

They took it one step further and jumped on Beyoncé’s popular new clothing line, Ivy Park, when the star unveiled a new partnership with Adidas. The resulting Ivy Park x Adidas line features simple athletic pieces in similar colors to Popeyes’ uniform colors — and the Popeye’s marketing team noticed.

By releasing the uniforms for purchase online as “That Look From Popeyes” with stylish photos, a sharp website, and noting 100 percent of the proceeds would be  donated to their charitable foundation, the fast food company sold out of their own uniforms. Plus, they raised money for a good cause and continued the hype around their brand.

What are some ways we can learn to respond to social trends in similarly creative ways?

  • Notice what’s trending and brainstorm ways your brand can relate and respond to it.
  • Pay attention to what’s happening OUTSIDE your target audience and apply it to your niche.
  • Imitate methods from bigger brands or organizations. In repeating a strategy, you begin to get a feel for the underlying thinking.
  • Create an atmosphere in your organization that allows for a free flow of all creative ideas (good or bad), because sometimes the best ideas come from the most unexpected places. 

Overall, there is a lot we can learn from looking beyond our own organizational bubbles and seeking influence from outside industries. Creativity and innovation are sparked by the exchange and application of these new ideas.

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