- Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen rolled out a campaign to support the people of New Orleans, an area harshly impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, according to a press release shared with Marketing Dive.
- The fast-food chain created a $28 "NOLA STRONG" meal box available via the Popeyes app, which comes with 12 pieces of fried chicken, two sides, six biscuits and a T-shirt. All proceeds from sales of the menu item will be donated to Louisiana non-profit Second Harvest Food Bank as part of an effort to feed more than 1 million meals to people in need. Consumers can also purchase "NOLA STRONG" merchandise, including T-shirts and hats, to benefit the cause via an online shop.
- Popeyes is promoting the effort with a short film highlighting the spirit and solidarity of New Orleans that stars city native Wendell Pierce ("The Wire," "Treme"). The brand is also offering weekly Sunday meal donations to Feed the Front Line NOLA.
Popeyes is running a purpose-driven effort to support the people of New Orleans, as the city has become a hot spot with one of the highest death rates due to COVID-19 in the country. The campaign shows how brands are quickly pivoting established marketing strategies — in Popeyes' case, a focus on online merchandise and nods to its Louisiana roots and the "Big Easy" — to respond to issues arising during the pandemic.
Popeyes expanded its branded apparel offerings earlier this year to online success. In January, it launched a capsule collection that was inspired by its employee uniforms, including their maroon and orange colorways, along with pop star Beyoncé's Ivy Park line. The 10-piece athleisure drop included branded T-shirts, polos, hooded jackets and more, and sold out quickly, according to Adweek. Popeyes now looks to replicate that popularity, but with proceeds benefiting a cause close to its home state.
Others in the fast-food category are ramping up similar efforts around COVID-19. McDonald's this week started offering free "Thank You Meals" to front line workers in a push that will last through May 5. Similar to Popeyes, the brand released a spot, created with agency Wieden + Kennedy New York, that salutes healthcare workers and other pandemic first responders.
While these campaigns deliver on the types of cause-driven messaging consumers are expecting of brands during the pandemic, companies like McDonald's and Popeyes face internal challenges as their own workers and franchisees clash on issues related to the coronavirus. Employees at Taco Bell, Burger King, Popeyes, Domino's, Subway, Jack in the Box, El Pollo Loco and WaBa Grill have enacted strikes demanding better protective gear on the job, as reported in Nation's Restaurant News.
If consumers perceive Popeyes and McDonald's as imperiling their workers, it could result in their cause-driven efforts coming off as inauthentic. A recent survey by Edelman on brand trust found that 90% of global consumers want corporations to put their best efforts into safeguarding the health and financial security of employees amid the pandemic, even if it means taking a "substantial" revenue hit in the short term.