- Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen unveiled an "Emotional Support Chicken" to-go box to give people a laugh during the stressful holiday travel season, the company announced in a press release.
- Travelers at the Philadelphia International Airport who order a three-piece tenders combo can receive their meal in a chicken-shaped cardboard carrier starting Dec. 18, until supplies last, and bring it on their flight.
- The effort was developed by creative agency GSD&M.
For a fast-food brand not typically associated with the holidays, Popeyes' quirky chicken carrier aims to ease the chaos of holiday air travel by offering its own version of an emotional support animal that passengers can get a laugh from and bring on board without restrictions. Popeyes is tapping into the recent surge in emotional support animals, which provide comfort and alleviate anxiety for many people, and poking fun at those who attempt to scam the system and bring peacocks, squirrels or other nontraditional pets onto planes, which has led some airlines to crack down on animals allowed on board.
Relieving stress around the holidays is a popular marketing theme this time of year. Along with Popeyes' travel-centric "Emotional Support Chicken" stunt, Diageo brand Smirnoff Seltzer and AB InBev's Stella Artois kicked off similar holiday campaigns that upgrade air travelers stuck in the middle seat. Busch beer released the Busch button, which fans could win on social media, to cancel out awkward or uncomfortable conversations at holiday festivities.
Quirky marketing stunts are growing increasingly popular with brands as a way to drum up general brand awareness or spark excitement around a new product offering. The campaigns often attract media attention and heighten social media engagement, as consumers snap and share photos or videos online, further extending the reach of the campaign.
The "Emotional Support Chicken" comes as Popeyes works to integrate more stunts into its marketing mix. The fast-food chain created a 12-hour drive-thru in November to celebrate its fried chicken's 12-hour marinating process. Customers could place their orders at a standalone menu board near Fort Stockton, Texas, and drive 12 hours to the Popeyes flagship location in New Orleans to pick up their order. To extend the campaign beyond folks in the Texas-Louisiana area, the chain produced a video of customers testing the drive-thru and gave away 12 months of free chicken through a social media contest via hashtag #12HrDriveThru.