How Popeyes Sold a Sandwich
A story about a chicken sandwich went super-viral.
|Bill Murphy Jr.||Sep 12, 2019|
Once upon a time we had the Burger Wars: McDonald's versus Burger King.
Then we had a battle between the burger places and the chicken restaurants. Now, there's a chicken civil war, in which a trio of fast food joints troll each other on Twitter over which among them -- Chick-fil-A, Popeye's or Wendy's -- has the best chicken sandwich.
It's pretty intense. And it leaves me wondering the same question that I think you might be asking as a business owner or entrepreneur when you hear this:
Do Twitter wars really sell sandwiches?
First, the details.
Last month, Popeyes added a chicken sandwich to its menu -- one that looks an awful lot like the signature sandwich that Chick-fil-A has been offering for years.
Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, right?
Afterward, the two fast food chicken places started trolling each other on Twitter. And as the battle raged, it drew more attention to both brands.
Case in point -- Chick-fil-A tweets a pretty nondescript tweet about its sandwiches reading simply, "Bun + Chicken + Pickles = all the [heart] for the original."
People who are into this on Twitter saw it as a swipe at Popeyes -- and so Popeyes responded with a tweet of its own, that simply said, "... y'all good?"
You can't stop watching
These are such simple messages, but people seem to love the idea of the two chicken places fighting each other. The Popeyes one in particular got massive engagement -- hundreds of thousands of likes and retweets.
That's not exactly "share this photo of an egg" territory, of course, but it's a response that dwarfs the relatively small number of twitter followers that Popeyes has in the first place.
It also prompted a massive crowed of people to weigh in on which sandwich is better, which in turn (I assume) prompted Wendy's to try to inject itself to the debate: "Y'all out here fighting about which of these fools has the second best chicken sandwich."
It goes on and and on, but I'm going to leave it there, except to point out that even though Chick-fil-A is getting the worst of it on Twitter, it's still seeing its sandwiches promoted. (This just in, so to speak: Shake Shack and Church's got in on the Twitter fight, too.)
But it shows why it's a brilliant move for the chains to attack each other like this on social media. It's like pro wrestling for restaurants -- a made-up, choreographed fight that people can't seem to stop watching.
If nobody watches, it doesn't matter
Sometimes the smartest thing you can do to bring attention to your business has almost nothing to do with your business itself.
Would something like this work for your business? Maybe, depending on what it is that you do. In fact, I think there's opportunity here (potentially) precisely because it seems like something currently limited to fast food and other similar industries.
a bunch of plumbing supply stores trolling each other on Twitter?
a local law firm outlandishly building humor into its persona on social media?
a fitness app making lighthearted fun of all the other fitness apps out there?
It seems like it could work. At the very least, you'll get a little bit of attention and have some fun. And if it doesn't work -- that just means nobody's noticed -- and you haven't really lost anything.
(This is a repub of an article I originally wrote for Inc.com)