Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen kicked off its third-annual Crawfish Festival last week, a campaign that one company executive likens to McDonald’s McRib LTO in its buzz and popularity.

Dick Lynch, chief marketing officer for Popeyes, says the Crawfish Festival—which is not a festival in the true sense but rather a menu and marketing limited-time offer—is as quintessential Louisiana as the brand comes.

“Everything we do is through the lens of and is someway inspired by or rooted in some element of Louisiana, either food or festivals,” Lynch says. “I think the Crawfish Festival is the best example of how powerful that positioning in the marketplace has been for us.”

From October 24 until November 27, Popeyes is offering four crawfish-centered menu items: the Crawfish Tackle Box, the Crawfish Po’Boy, the Crawfish Traveler, and the Crawfish Etouffee. Lynch says the “festival” element is in how the stores will sell the dishes.

“There’s certainly a festival atmosphere in the store,” he says. “We provide the store with extra POP, there’s T-shirts, there’s crawfish headbands that some of the crew wears.”

Lynch says customers have responded very positively to the past two years of the Crawfish Festival and that it’s become “something they really look forward to.”

“We repeat it very happily because every year has been more successful than the year before,” he says.

The Crawfish Festival has been so welcomed by customers, Lynch says, that it’s taken on a grassroots, heavy-buzz aura much like the McRib sandwich at McDonald’s, which was also released recently.  

“Using McRib is a terrific example of the power of a unique LTO,” Lynch says. “LTOs by their nature are foods that you crave, but you don’t crave them 100 percent of the time. You crave them arguably one time a year or a couple times a year.”

And these cravings, Lynch says, grow into big-time sales because of the act-now personality items like Popeyes’ Crawfish or McDonald’s McRib take on.

“There’s such urgency because you know it’s not going to be there for a long time, you’ve got to have it now because you know it’s going to go away,” he says. “That’s the magic of LTOs—they have built-in urgency to them that creates a lot of excitement, a lot of energy, and especially when you repeat them … you don’t have to spend a lot of time educating your customers about what crawfish is.”

By Sam Oches

Marketing & Promotions, Menu Innovations, News, Popeyes