Southern chicken chain Bojangles’ may be one of the more than 20 million fans that tune into “American Idol” each season, but it’s got its eye on one contestant in particular: season 10 winner Scott McCreery.

In the brand’s latest marketing campaign, Bojangles’ recruited the 19-year-old Garner, North Carolina, native to draw in fans from across its 10-state, Southeastern market base.

The campaign, which features radio spots, two 30-second commercials, and in-store merchandising, plays up the brand’s southern food and roots.

And the choice to recruit McCreery as a spokesperson was a simple one. While watching “American Idol,” the Bojangles’ team noticed McCreery wearing one of the brand’s “It’s Bo Time” T-shirts.

Then, when McCreery reached out to a Raleigh Bojangles’ franchisee to cater his high school graduation party, the partnership fell into place. “While [the franchisee was] there serving the food and getting the food ready for him, he basically said, ‘You know, I’d love to do some commercials for Bojangles’,’” says Randy Poindexter, senior vice president of marketing for Bojangles’.

Work got under way in June, and the spots hit the air in early November.

Not only is McCreery a lifelong fan of the brand’s chicken and biscuits, but he’s also a perfect fit for the message the brand’s trying to get across to consumers, Poindexter says.

“Scotty shares a lot of the community values and family values that we have in the Bojangles’ culture,” he says. “He just sort of has that all-American charm, and we felt like it was just a great fit for us.”

McCreery also brings a sizeable fan base to the table.

“We’re still a regional brand in the Southeast. Our footprint covers about 10 states, but about 70 percent of our chain is still in North and South Carolina,” Poindexter says, adding that the brand is aiming to expand in markets like Alabama, Tennessee, Virginia, Georgia, and north Florida.

“We felt like Scotty would help us reach some of his fan base where we don’t have real high awareness levels,” he adds.

And even though McCreery largely appeals to the country music fan base, Bojangles’ doesn’t feel the new ad spots will alienate those fans or potential customers who don’t identify with the genre.

“He is a country signer, but his reach is young kids to senior citizens, so it’s a pretty wide scope of fan base that he has,” Poindexter says. “That matches up good with our core customer and our heavy user, but we also think his appeal will bring in new customers, as well.”

In addition to the radio and TV ads, Bojangles’ is running a promotion beginning November 26, in which customers who visit a Bojangles’ restaurant will receive a unique download code. The code can be redeemed online for a free download of one of three singles from McCreery’s new Christmas album, “Christmas with Scotty McCreery.”

“We’re trying to add credibility to the brand,” Poindexter says. “We think Scotty helps us with that. We also think that it is going to generate increased awareness of who we are and help drive sales throughout our footprint.”

By Mary Avant

Growth, Marketing & Promotions, News, Bojangles