Industry News | January 13, 2010

NFL Hall of Famer Enlisted for Zaxby's Ad

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Super Bowl XLIV is less than a month away, and Zaxby’s is taking advantage of the fact that football is top of mind for many quick-serve customers by using a Hall of Fame quarterback as its new pitchman.

The chicken chain rolled out this week a new TV spot featuring Terry Bradshaw, the famed former quarterback of the Pittsburgh Steelers. The campaign highlights Zaxby’s Kickin’ Chicken Sandwich Meal, as well as its new Fried Pickles.

“We think it’s very timely, being toward the end of the season [and] going into the Super Bowl,” says Zach McLeroy, Zaxby’s cofounder and CEO.

McLeroy says the Kickin’ Chicken Sandwich is his and cofounder Tony Townley’s favorite menu option. “It’s very hearty,” he says. “It’s something that most all guys like.”

That guy appeal, coupled with Bradshaw’s work as an NFL analyst and personality—the former football star is often the comedic relief on football broadcasts he appears in—makes him a good fit to promote the Zaxby’s menu option, McLeroy says.

“Terry has managed to keep himself very relevant in the sports world by being a broadcaster, and we try to use people that are relevant,” he says. “He’s kind of like the average guy. You feel like you know Terry Bradshaw when you see him for the first time. He just has that kind of demeanor, that kind of air about him.”

McLeroy says he believes that celebrity spokespeople are still good bets in the marketing world because of the influence they carry over consumers.

“We did this campaign for probably about a year without celebrities,” he says. “As we moved to celebrities, we noticed a bump in our business.”

While quick-serve chicken competitor Wingstop employs former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman as more of a permanent spokesman, McLeroy says that Zaxby’s has no plans to make Bradshaw permanent.

“We try to change our celebrities once a quarter, to kind of keep it fresh,” he says, noting that the chain will certainly consider Bradshaw for potential future involvement.

The Zaxby’s advertisement featuring Bradshaw—which was created by ad agency St. John & Partners—debuted on the chain’s Facebook page last week and began airing on TV Monday.

By Sam Oches