Chicken Sandwiches and the Power of Marketing

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Reading through my Facebook feed, I found myself struck by the myriad of kerfuffles surrounding the mania over Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen’s new chicken sandwich. One such kerfuffle led to a man stabbing and killing another Popeyes patron, ostensibly over the aforementioned chicken sandwich.

I use the word “struck” vs “perplexed” or “shocked” to describe my reaction to the Popeyes chicken sandwich mania because I’m neither perplexed nor shocked, which would indicate that I’m surprised, by what we are witnessing regarding this chicken sandwich.

This is simply the power of marketing at work.

I’m old enough to remember the Pet Rock fad of the 1970s. While that fad didn’t rise to the level of a mania where people are damaging their own cars at a drive thru or killing people, it does speak to how with the right marketing to the right audience at the right time, you can get otherwise rational people to go out of their way to “desire” the most mundane or absurd products or services.

I never thought the Pet Rock or the Cabbage Patch Kids could be topped as the most successful marketing campaign for a mundane product, but the Popeyes chicken sandwich is certainly the Pet Rock of the 21st century.

For goodness sake, we are talking about a CHICKEN SANDWICH!

People are committing crimes and going bananas over something they can easily make a better version of in their own home. I mean, I found more interesting rocks in my backyard than the Pet Rock, but here’s the thing…

It wasn’t a Pet Rock!

The chicken in my kitchen also isn’t the same as the Popeyes chicken sandwich either, or so I’m told, and that is the point.

Add to this point that corporate America is once again exploiting our penchant for dichotomous thinking, and that thinking underpins the racial and political divisions in our country, and it is plain to see how this fad rises to the level of a mania.

Unlike the Pet Rock, the Popeyes chicken sandwich is the answer to the Chick-fil-A chicken sandwich. Popeyes is perceived to have a more minority and liberal clientele vs Chick-fil-A’s more white and conservative base.

What people perceive is what they tend to believe, even if it isn’t true, and corporate America knows this better than anyone.

If the power of marketing can convince you that you need to go out and spend money on a rock that you can get for free in your own yard or vote against your own interests, it can certainly compel you buy a sandwich you can make yourself or buy almost anywhere else.

It might even taste so good that it makes you want to slap your mama or damage your own car or even kill someone, but is a chicken sandwich really so good you’d run out and want to find out why so many people seem to want it, or are you just being manipulated into being curious about it and don’t realize it?

Curiosity killed the cat, you know…

-The Rational Ram

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