Chick-fil-A finds opportune time to unveil Spicy Chicken Sandwich

Prompted by consumer demand, Chick-fil-A developed a Spicy Chicken Sandwich a few years ago.

Client

Chick-fil-A (Atlanta)

PR agency

Jackson Spalding (Atlanta)

Campaign

Spicy Chicken Sandwich launch

Duration

May-July 2010

Budget

Just under $100,000

Prompted by consumer demand, Chick-fil-A developed a Spicy Chicken Sandwich a few years ago. As the economy worsened, it held off on the launch in part to cut expenses, including separate kitchen tools needed for isolating the spicy ingredients. This year, it decided to roll out and promote the product with a PR-heavy campaign.

STRATEGY

In the early development stages, the company leaked information about the imminent launch. The PR team, including AOR Jackson Spalding, promoted the fact that it was coming, and used franchise and media outreach, says Donald Perry, VP of corporate PR at Chick-fil-A.

"This product had been in development so long, it wasn't that we were trying to make a surprise announcement," he says. "We wanted to build buzz."

TACTICS

Beginning in late May, the team launched getspicy.com. It delivered sandwiches to media in about 30 key markets, promoting the effort via Twitter and franchisee outreach. Throughout the launch in June, outlets received "spicy b-roll" featuring president Dan Cathy.

On May 31, the team introduced a six-day consumer sampling promotion, open to Facebook fans and e-mail customers first, explains Perry.

"Over a week-long period, we could serve it, talk about it, and answer questions," he says. Jackson Spalding PR consultant Bryan Harris adds that local franchise operators initiated their own promotions for the spicy launch, including driving around on fire trucks.

RESULTS

The company sold 3.3 million sandwiches between June 7 and 21, and gave away 1.2 million during the sampling period. The launch received more than 150 broadcast mentions and placements in outlets including the Houston Chronicle and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

FUTURE

The team will focus on promoting the campaign's positive business results, including sales "in a down economy," says Perry.

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