At the center of the campaign is the brand’s tie to Louisiana culinary traditions. The change from Popeyes Chicken & Biscuits to Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen reminds customers of the labor that goes into creating the brand’s authentic taste. Lynch says many consumers do not know the chicken is marinated for at least 12 hours—-something he calls the Popeyes Paradox, the company’s ability to bring slow-cooked food to the fast-food consumer.
As part of the repositioning, three new menu items are being added: the Loaded Chicken Wrap, made with all-white meat chicken, red beans and rice, and a warm cheddar tortilla; the Delta Mini, featuring all-white meat chicken on a mini toasted bun with Delta sauce; and the Chicken Biscuit, crispy all-white meat marinated in Louisiana seasoning on a buttermilk biscuit. Each item is priced at $1.49 and is a permanent menu addition.
Lynch maintains that the brand’s intense reimaging is not related to the recent success of its competitors, but instead to the arrival of its newest CEO, Cheryl Bachelder. In fiscal 2007, Popeyes experienced a .3 percent system sales increase while Bojangles’ earned an 11.7 percent increase and Zaxby’s hit a 20 percent increase. “I like to think Popeyes is a lighthouse brand,” Lynch says. “We don’t navigate by our competitors; we like to think others can navigate by us. We have defined this brand exactly as it needs to be defined based on its DNA, its roots, its spiritual home, and its differentiation.”
Along with menu and descriptor changes, Popeyes will launch a new ad campaign featuring Ed, a friendly, young fictional chef who sits down with real, unsuspecting diners and shares insights about their food choices. According to Lynch, the campaign’s viral feel is meant to attract younger audiences to the brand. “They’re the ones walking in through the doors at least four times a week; that’s where the volume is,” Lynch says of the coveted 18-24 demographic.
Ad agency, GSD&M Idea City, won out over seven hopeful agencies to create the national campaign for Popeyes and is responsible for realizing the potential marketability of the brand’s Louisiana roots, Lynch says.
As of July 13, 2008, Popeyes had 1,901 restaurants in the U.S., Puerto Rico, Guam, and 25 foreign countries.