No, Popeyes Isn’t Making Pizza. In Fact, It Wants to Intercept Your Pizza Order

The chain's new stunt from Gut offers to trade chicken for pizzas

The chicken chain hopes to take a bite out of pizza night. Popeyes
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Popeyes has spent the past year poking fun at Chick-fil-A, first with a snarky tweet (“y’all good?”) and later by promoting its runaway-hit chicken sandwich as being available on Sundays—when all Chick-fil-A locations are closed.

Now the chicken chain has chosen a new rival: the entire pizza industry.

In February, as Popeyes was researching its audiences and opportunities, the marketing team realized the chain’s products had surprising similarities to how consumers view pizza: a quick and easy solution to feeding a crowd. With months of quarantine making Pizza Night even more of a weekly tradition in America than it already was, Popeyes was especially interested in grabbing a slice of those delivery dollars with a new campaign for its family meals.

The new promotion—offering free delivery for family meal orders, ostensibly in lieu of pizza—wasn’t announced until today via a video showing Popeyes intercepting pizza orders and offering to trade them for chicken.

However, the chain sparked some classic Twitter-fueled speculation when it tweeted one word:

Understandably, quite a few people took this as a sign the chain would soon begin offering a chicken pizza. (For better or worse, that’s not the case.)

Other brands, per usual, saw the enigmatic tweet getting traction and jumped into the fray:

Even competing chicken chain Zaxby’s had some fun with it:

Frozen pizza brand DiGiorno seemed ready to fire back:

But what followers and competitors likely didn’t see coming was that the tweet was teasing a video about tailing pizza drivers and offering customers an exchange of chicken for pizza:

The spot was filmed in Portland, Ore., with the crew attempting about a dozen trades, with more than half of the pizza buyers accepting the chicken in exchange.

The campaign comes via agency Gut, a frequent collaborator with the brand that won the full creative account away from incumbent GSD&M earlier this year. Previously, Gut’s work for Popeyes included the “Open Sunday” ad campaign trolling Chick-fil-A and the branded athleisure clothing line inspired both by Beyoncé’s Ivy Park collection and Popeyes’ staff uniform.

Bruno Cardinali, North American CMO of Popeyes, praised Gut’s social effort in building anticipation for the promotion without giving away the reveal.

“The community management team from Gut did a great job staying true to who we are as a brand. It builds a lot of anticipation,” Cardinali said. “That’s the beauty of Popeyes, that element of surprise.”

"They're running out of options for what to eat for dinner. People are just getting a little tired of always ordering pizza."
—Bruno Cardinali, North America CMO, Popeyes

While fried chicken and pizza might not seem like obvious competitors, Cardinali said Popeyes’ research found quite a bit of overlap—and opportunity for the chain to win over pizza-fatigued consumers.

“We saw a lot of similarities with pizza: It’s a crowd pleaser, it’s quick and easy if you’re running out of ideas for what to eat for dinner or what to cook,” Cardinali said.

As lingering lockdowns and social distancing have made pizza delivery commonplace to the point of numbness, Popeyes saw ideal timing to insert itself into the conversation.

“They’re running out of options for what to eat for dinner. People are just getting a little tired of always ordering pizza,” Cardinali said. “So we felt it was a good opportunity for us to drop this campaign.”

Client: Popeyes
Fernando Machado, Global Chief Marketing Officer
Bruno Cardinali, Head of Marketing Popeyes North America
Paloma Azulay, Global Chief Marketing Officer
Nicole Alevizos Hurd, Head of Global Brand Marketing
Daniela Chamorro, Marketing Communications Manager

Agency: Gut
Anselmo Ramos – Creative Chairman / Founder
Paulo Fogaca – Chief Operating Officer/Partner
Carmen Rodriguez – Chief Client Officer/ Partner
Juan Javier Peña Plaza – Executive Creative Director/Partner
Ricardo Casal – Executive Creative Director/Partner
Guido Fusetti – Head of Art
Jeffrey Hodgson – Creative Director
Eliana Ferrer – Creative Director
Leila Moussaoui – Associate Creative Director
Willow Ennen – Art Director
Andrew Gonzalez – Art Director
Renata Neumann – Head of Production
Alexandra Odriozola – Senior Producer
Aileen Echenique – Business Director
Jennifer Rangel – Account Supervisor
Samantha Lemoine – Content Director
Sai He – Senior Copy Writer
Wilmarie Velez – Account Supervisor
Pablo Rosas – Director of Strategy
William Ramos – Social Strategy Director

Production: Society
Connor Martin – Director
Harry Calbom – Executive Producer
Harry Calbom, Holiday Coles, Lucy Martin – Producers
Jov Luke – Director of Photography:
Connor Martin – Camera Operator
Brandon Daniel – Camera Operator
Zack LaRochelle, Jeff Martin – Production Assistants
Juan Melara – Colorist
Keith Keniff – Music
Rebecca Parenteau – Head of Production
Drew Brecker – Head of Business Affairs
Holiday Coles – Post Producer

Editorial: Cosmo Street Editorial
Lorenzo Bomicci – Editor
Philip Gomez – Assistant Editor
Idalia Deshon – Producer
Yvette Cobarrubias-Sears – Executive Producer/Managing Partner
Nico Cragnolino – Flame Artist
John Erdman: AE Artist

Mix: Studio Center
Debbie Manzione, Casting Director / Account Manager Audio
Shippley Watson, Engineer

@griner David Griner is creative and innovation editor at Adweek and host of Adweek's podcast, "Yeah, That's Probably an Ad."