You've seen a beverage company expand into media, as Pepsi turned its Uncle Drew commercials into a full-fledged movie. Now a media property, Better Call Saul, has expanded into food with free "Los Pollos Hermanos" chicken meal delivery over the last few days. It was the sort of promotion that sounds good but was a big mistake on a fundamental branding level.

This isn't a free food delivery on National Cheeseburger Day from Shake Shack. AMC, the network that airs Better Call Saul, partnered with delivery service Postmates. While supplies last, people in New York City and Los Angeles can get a snack. Here's a tweeted promotion:

Los Pollos Hermanos is a fictional fast-food restaurant that plays an important role in the show and was also featured on its predecessor, Breaking Bad.

Free chicken meals with a reminder about a well-received television show. What could go wrong?

The food.

Ad Age had a staff member order and review the experience:

"The chicken was fine, nothing special," he says. "I couldn't help but be disappointed. It's been a while since I ate fried chicken regularly, but I'd say it's no KFC, much less [Brooklyn restaurant] Buttermilk Channel."
It was, however, better than the fries, which were "mildly spicy and curly but didn't travel as well," he says.

Really? Review the food? Absolutely. What sounds like a quick bit of wit for the publication goes to the core of promotions, making it apt fodder.

When you do a promotion, it has to be true to the brand. Whatever experience the customer has is really an extension of the brand. If the promotion is satisfying, it supports the brand. If it doesn't, the marketing campaign undermines what the brand has achieved.

The delivery, so to speak, helps guide how people think about the brand. When AMC decided to send chicken out, it made a promise to show fans that the result would be in keeping with the show. This is the emotional foundation of promotions and branding.

As Ad Age also pointed out, according to a video done by the show, if you don't like the results, "they're on me," with "me" being the drug kingpin owner character, Gus Fring.

By delivering what sounds like an unmemorable experience, AMC basically tells people who receive the meals that the show stands for something forgettable. The danger is that the communications are all emotional subtext that can't be undone.

When you're going to promote your company and brand, remember that execution and customer experience are key. Mess them up and it doesn't matter how clever or eye-catching your efforts are. You essentially tell people to stay away, and if they receive enough of those messages, they might.

Published on: Aug 22, 2018
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