You know what I need right about now because of this stressful holiday season? Some emotional support. Not just any type of emotional support, I need the kind of support that one can only get from a chicken. Yes, a chicken.
That's exactly what Popeyes is proposing in their latest viral campaign. At Philadelphia International Airport the fast-food giant decided to place their fried chicken in a chicken shaped box labeled "emotional support chicken." It's a reference to passengers bringing emotional support animals such as peacocks, squirrels and passengers on board their flights.
Here's what it looks like:
In all seriousness, from a marketing perspective, I found this stunt to be fairly genius for many reasons. If you're looking to garner press attention and think a viral campaign might just be your ticket, here's what you can learn from this stunt.
1. The marketing stunt has to be more than to just garner attention. It has to also be on brand.
Let's be real. Nobody eats Popeyes chicken when they feel like they need more energy. Fried chicken is comfort food. You eat it when you're stressed. That's what really makes this campaign click.
The box reads:
This chicken provides comfort and nourishment during stressful air travel. Unlike other chicken, it is marinated in real Louisiana spices for 12 hours and must be permitted to fly without restriction. Do not leave unattended, as Popeyes' is not responsible for lost or stolen chicken.
Popeyes embraced who they really are and let the world know that when you need some emotional support and your family isn't giving it to you, Popeyes is there for you. The emotional support chicken probably won't physically be there with you, but it's the thought that counts.
If you're thinking about running a campaign, make sure it actually garners the right attention. Attention for the sake of attention isn't always the most effective.
2. You can do a small stunt to see if it garners any attention before you go big.
Notice how the emotional support chicken wasn't available everywhere? In fact, it was offered at one single gate in an airport. So, of the thousands of Popeyes around the globe, only one location offers it. And here I am, writing about it.
Popeye's marketing team did more with less in my opinion. They didn't have to roll it out to every popeye's to get good PR about their brand. A single press release and a single emotional support chicken picture are all they needed.
Now, don't get me wrong. This isn't always the rule. IHOP didn't change one restaurant's name to IHOB. They "changed" the entire company's name to IHOB for a short period of time. Do what you think is best for you and your business.
For entrepreneurs and business owners, it's OK to have big ideas. But, what this shows is that sometimes you don't have to go big to get the press you're looking for. Try out something small and see if you get any traction. If it doesn't work, then you can save face and save a lot of time on something that wasn't going to work in the first place.
3. Your viral stunt must be relevant to what's happening now (without being political)
If there weren't legit attempts by passengers to bring emotional peacocks, squirrels and passengers on board of their flights, this campaign would have easily fell short. It's a non-political topic that everyone can agree on that its quite having anything else than an emotional support dog is kind of ridiculous.
It's critical that when launching your viral campaign that it's not referencing something that's years old or no longer being talked about.
The emotional support chicken (sounds funny just writing it out), calls out the outlandishness of others alternative support animals. In conclusion, a viral campaign isn't always the answer to your marketing problems, but if you follow the tips above, you'll have a much better chance of going viral.