On Monday, chicken QSR Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen is launching new television and radio spots to support the national rollout of its Bonafide Wings.
The campaign includes 15- and 30-second TV spots and a 60-second radio spot featuring "Annie the Chicken Queen," a fictional Popeyes chef with a down-home, straight-talking manner who became the chain's spokesperson in late March.
The new commercials, which will run through September on key national cable networks, have English and Spanish versions.
The wings are prepared in the same way as the chain's signature Bonafide Chicken: slow-marinated in Louisiana seasonings, hand-battered and cooked fresh. They are being positioned as "bite-sized pieces of Bonafide heaven" and will be included with items like Louisiana Nuggets and Tenders on the chain's "travelers" (portable items) menu.
The limited-time offers being promoted are five wing pieces for $2.99 or 11 pieces of mixed chicken and wings for $9.99.
Given a winning recipe, portability and a price point that's a bit lower than the chicken's, Popeyes is confident that the wings will be embraced by existing customers and attract new ones, Keith Guyett, VP/account director at GSD&M Idea City, the chain's agency and creators of the campaign, tells Marketing Daily.
The "Annie" character drew some online fire when introduced in the spring, with some -- notably the AgencySpy blog on MediaBistro -- charging that the character, an African-American with a Southern accent, represents blatant, offensive stereotyping.
Popeyes responded with this statement: "The 'Annie' character was created to express the pride, passion and authenticity that go into our carefully prepared, delicious Louisiana-style chicken. There have been various points of view on Annie, and we are taking these perspectives into consideration as we plan new iterations of the campaign with the goal of broadening her appeal."
Popeyes and GSD&M monitor social media and "check in with customers on a regular basis" to confirm that the character is "still hitting the sweet spot" with the audience, according to Guyett.
Judging from sales performance, the campaign is getting the chain's value message across. Although Popeyes parent AFC Enterprises Inc. reported a 3% decline in profit for the second quarter, Popeyes same-store sales were up 4.3% -- the best performance since the first quarter of 2006, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. AFC raised its full-year comparable-store sales expectations to 2%, from a previously projected high of 1%.
AFC CEO Cheryl Bachelder credited the national advertising and a 2009 value strategy that reflects tight budgets with ongoing offers such as $1.99 and $2.99 meals and boxes of nine pieces for $7.99, as well as short-term promotions like eight pieces of chicken for $4.99.