Saucy Southern chicken restaurant Zaxby’s is putting its own spin on an all-time classic: the Philly cheesesteak. For their Philly, Zaxby’s is ditching the beef and instead featuring Zaxby’s signature fried or grilled chicken, savory garlic aioli, and a combination of melted American cheese, grilled peppers and onions served on a toasted hoagie roll.

“Philadelphia and I have a decades long history,” says Dolph Lundgren, star of the new advertisements. “So when Zaxby’s came to me ready to take on the city’s iconic sandwich with a Philly of their own, I knew it would be fun to be part of this campaign.”

After all, the mere existence of the saucy new Fried Chicken Philly is fuel for some spirited debate about the reign of the Philly cheesesteak. To spur the conversation, the brand decided to go all in, daring to show off its mouthwatering sandwich in Philadelphia itself.

While Zaxby’s has over 900 locations throughout the U.S., the closest restaurant is 169 miles away from Philadelphia in Virginia. Undeterred, Zaxby’s has brought the Fried Chicken Philly to the City of Brotherly Love via a series of boastful billboards, only in Philadelphia. With lines like “Just like the Philly you know and love, but good,” and “Finally, the Philly done right,” the campaign has gotten Philadelphians talking.

“This sandwich and campaign poses a provocative question: could we as Zaxby’s take an iconic sandwich and make it better?” says Patrick Schwing, chief marketing and strategy officer at Zaxby’s. “When you take on a beloved, iconic sandwich like the Philly, you better be sure it can stand up to even the most discerning critic. After a year of development and testing, we knew we had a sandwich worthy of the name ‘Philly’. And what better place to debut this sandwich than Philadelphia. For those who don’t believe, we invite you to come to your closest Zaxby’s and come try it.”

And so far, the campaign is working. In the first three weeks, the Fried Chicken Philly has beat sales expectations, selling at almost three times the forecasted rate.

Putting its money where its mouth is, the company is even considering setting up a pop-up food truck in the coming weeks in Philadelphia itself, so local residents will be able to judge for themselves which sandwich is the true champion.

Elements of the campaign include the following:

  • TV Commercials: In a series of spots featuring Dolph Lundgren the action star is shown on the iconic steps of the Philadelphia Art Museum touting the deliciousness of Zaxby’s newest sandwich.
  • Billboards: Outdoor billboards will run in key locations in Philadelphia unveiling the launch of this disrespectfully delicious sandwich.
  • Food Truck Pop-up: With the nearest Zaxby’s being more than one hundred miles away, Zaxby’s is considering setting up a Philly Food Truck right in the heart of the city, offering a free sandwich to any brave soul willing to declare, The best Philly is the Zaxby’s Fried Chicken Philly.”

Finally, the Philly done right.

Fast Casual, Food, Menu Innovations, News, Zaxby's