If You’re Willing to Drive 12 Hours, Popeyes Will Reward You With Free Chicken

Drive-thru stunt celebrates the chain’s marinating process

This drive-thru starts in Texas and ends in New Orleans. Popeyes
Headshot of Minda Smiley

Popeyes prides itself on serving up “fast” food that’s cooked slowly: the chain’s ads often boast that its chicken marinates for 12 hours before it’s served. But would you drive for half a day to get their delicious chicken?

That’s the idea of Popeyes’ 12 Hour Drive Thru, a real drive-thru where people can order their meal in Fort Stockton, Texas (a town of just over 8,000 wedged in between El Paso and San Antonio) and pick it up at the brand’s flagship store on Canal Street in New Orleans that is, you guessed it, 12 hours away. The activation was created in partnership with Austin-based GSD&M, Popeyes’ longtime ad agency.

A short film chronicles the journey of seven customers who tested the drive-thru out with one remarking that “this is the craziest thing I’ve ever done for chicken.” As they drive across state lines, the road-trippers are greeted with billboards that say things like, “Your chicken has been marinating for 3 hours. Only 9 more to go.”

At the halfway point, a Popeyes pep team is seen holding up signs on a bridge to cheer the drivers on. When they finally arrive in New Orleans, they are greeted with balloons and fanfare as they pick up their reward for the impressive effort.

The drive-thru officially opens on Nov. 9, but the fried chicken chain is running a contest that gives 12 Popeyes fans an early opportunity to try it out. Additionally, those not necessarily willing to make the drive have a chance to win a year’s worth of free 12-hour marinated chicken (which fine print says translates to a $360 gift card).

The brand is no stranger to creating larger than life gimmicks to remind consumers of its drawn-out marinating process. Last year, Popeyes brought a 13-foot-tall chicken leg—complete with a movie-watching chamber and massage chair—to the Shaky Knees Music Festival in Atlanta. Dubbed the “Marinating Machine,” the giant chicken leg gave festivalgoers a chance to experience “12 hours of flavor in 1.2 minutes.”


Agency: GSD&M                                                      
Chief Creative Officer: Jay Russell
Group Creative Directors: Tom Hamling, Tim Eger    
Art Director: Joel Williams, Jon Williamson                          
Writer: Leigh Browne, Jeffrey Butterworth
Head of Content Production: Laura Busino
Print Producer: Helena Abbing                                
Account Service: Carrie Hines, Liam Doherty, Daniel Sparkman 
Strategy: Jim Firestone
Business Affairs Manager: Linda Nhan 
Project Manager: Kelley Hyatt
Creative Team (Website): Joel Williams, Leigh Browne, Jon Williamson
Executive Producer (Website): Jefferson Burruss
Account Team (Website): Daniel Sparkman, Liam Doherty

Production Company: Hey Wonderful                    
Director: Sam Cadman                                
DP: Matthew Wolf
Founder / Managing Director: Michael Di Girolamo
Executive Producer: Sarah McMurray
Executive Producer / Head of Production: Earl McDaniel

Post House: Cut n Run
Editor: Joel Miller
Assistant Editor: Nick Kondylas
Producer: Bebe Baldwin

@Minda_Smiley minda.smiley@adweek.com Minda Smiley is an agencies reporter at Adweek.