On March 16, Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen unveiled its new Red Stick Chicken and a corresponding mobile game at the South by Southwest Festival in Austin. The newest limited-time offer continues the brand’s storytelling mission with a Louisiana emphasis.
“We couldn’t think of a better place to introduce this new, very innovative product than what we believe is home base for innovation, that being South by Southwest,” says Hector Munoz, CMO for Popeyes. “We've had a lot of success with our LTO strategy. At this point part of the success has been the fact that we've brought in these new products, we've introduced them, we've garnered very favorable consumer receptivity, and then we've taken them off the menu only to make way for another new product LTO.”
Since rebranding from Popeyes Chicken & Biscuits to Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, the company has geared its menu to embody Cajun flavors. Marinated in Tabasco pepper sauce and cayenne, the four-piece tenderloin special is served with Cajun Fries and a buttermilk biscuit with a new dipping sauce—Smok’n Pepper Ranch—that was created to complement the Red Stick Chicken. The LTO also marks the largest collaboration between Popeyes and Tabasco brands to date.
“The backstory is this true Louisiana story that pairs two different components. One is the Tabasco pepper and the other is the le petit baton rouge, which is translated to the little red stick,” Munoz says.
In a new video ad, company ambassador Annie also discusses the significance of the red stick. On Avery Island, Louisiana, farmers look to little sticks that are painted red as a guide to picking Tabasco peppers only once they are just the right hue.
To further drive the red stick lore, Popeyes created a mobile game, “Red Stick Staredown, A Game of Chicken,” which uses facial-recognition technology. Munoz says that like pepper picking, the game requires patience.
“We thought that this product really afforded us the opportunity to educate consumers on truly what the meaning of Red Stick Chicken is,” Munoz says. “We're doing this by giving customers or a guest a memorable experience … that we believe is going to ignite continued brand advocacy and ultimately visits to our local Popeyes restaurants.”
The Red Stick Chicken will be available March 30 through April 26 at more than 1,800 restaurants. When asked if the special might be added as a permanent menu item, Munoz says that Popeyes customers look forward to ever-changing nature of the restaurant’s LTOs.
“We're becoming a big brand,” Munoz says, “We believe that becoming a big brand requires us to do big things.”
By Nicole Duncan