- Chick-fil-A had to apologize to consumers after sending an email communication in celebration of National Chicken Sandwich Day, according to Business Insider. The promotional holiday falls on Nov. 3 — a Sunday — when Chick-fil-A is closed.
- Popeyes, which is bringing back its previously sold-out chicken sandwich offering on the 3rd, took the opportunity to ding its rival. The brand retweeted a shot of the apology email and commented "seriously… y'all good?" while tagging Chick-fil-A's official account.
- Speaking to Business Insider, Bruno Cardinali, Popeyes' marketing head in North America, noted that National Sandwich Day falling on a Sunday was pure coincidence.
Chick-fil-A has handed Popeyes an easy win as the competitor hypes up the return of a chicken sandwich offering that sold out within just two weeks of its August launch. Chick-fil-A is always closed on Sundays due to the company's Christian roots — promising employees a chance for religious worship — which makes the oversight stand out to loyal customers, along with giving Popeyes another way to direct attention toward its own marketing.
Popeyes earlier this week launched a campaign notifying consumers of the viral chicken sandwich's permanent return this weekend. Videos and messaging attached to the announcement directly call out how Popeyes is open on Sundays while Chick-fil-A is not. With some simple social media communications, Popeyes extends the effort in a low-cost way.
Popeyes' chicken sandwich has been a standout marketing success story this year, not only for scoring rave reviews, but also for how little paid media the brand has put behind the product. While the chain ran a stunt and some ads to herald the initial rollout, the bulk of the traction has been organic, with Popeyes deriving an estimated $65 million in earned media thanks to online communities like Black Twitter.
At a time when many brands — particularly those in the fast food category — are deploying complex, often pricey campaigns to excite consumers, Popeyes has proved that word of mouth remains one of the more powerful marketing engines. Parent company Restaurant Brands International reported in Q3 earnings released Monday that Popeyes' comparable store sales rose 9.7%, with the chain seeing one of its best quarters in nearly two decades.
While Popeyes' marketing playbook for its new chicken sandwich has been fairly bare bones, the adversarial messaging strategy aligns with general trends in the fast food space. Brands like Wendy's have popularized directly calling out competitors on channels like Twitter, reflecting the platforms' more casual, conversational format. For now, the ball is in Chick-fil-A's court.