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Popeyes Marketing Exec: Sandwich Success 'Involved Zero TV Advertising'

Jayson Derrick

Popeyes expanded into the chicken sandwich category in August and saw tremendous success without even advertising its new product on TV.

Popeyes had a TV commercial ready to launch to promote its sandwich but its parent company Restaurant Brands International Inc (NYSE: QSR) scrapped its plans in favor of a more organic growth strategy. Popeyes global chief marketing officer Fernando Machado told The Wall Street Journal the company took an "unusual approach" by foregoing the usual strategy of advertising "a lot" on TV and "a little bit" on digital channels.

Machado's decision proved to be the right one as the chicken sandwich proved to be "the most successful product launch" in six years -- and it "involved zero TV advertising."

Why It's Important For Popeyes And The Fast-Food Industry

TV ads account for around 80% to 90% of Popeyes' global media budget, which Machado said is consistent with the broader fast-food industry. TV is a valuable tool to reinforce brands, offers and promotions.

The restaurant industry continues to shift towards digital channels, however, including online ordering and delivery. As such, it shouldn't come as a large surprise tweets about Popeyes brand doubled in size to 4,000 a day during the first week of the sandwich's launch in early April, God-is Rivera, global director of culture and community on Twitter, told WSJ.

The restaurant industry will likely look at Popeyes' viral success, which was produced organically. Brands that want to invest in a digital campaign may find it difficult to replicate Popeyes' success.

"Sometimes people have the misconception that a digital campaign should be cheaper than a TV one," Machado told WSJ. "The reality is that if you want to trigger talkability in social media, you need to invest properly behind the idea," he said.

Related Links

Chicken Wars Redux: Popeyes' Chicken Sandwich To Return In November

Analysis: Popeyes Chicken Sandwich Translates To Surge In Foot Traffic

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

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