Chick-fil-A offers a perfect case-study on marketing and advertising for any business, let alone those affiliated with the meat industry.
The Super Bowl may be the most anticipated football event of the year, when the top two teams battle it out, and the National Football League pulls out all the stops in its effort to wow its fans. It has become such a popular event that businesses line up and pay big bucks to advertise their wares during the contest.
Some years, the advertisers successfully pull out all the stops and create truly memorable commercials that pitch their products or services perfectly. Some years, they fail, creating forgettable commercials that fall short of expectations.
Yet, every advertiser and marketer can learn a thing or two from one of the longest-running advertising campaigns on the market: Chick-fil-A’s “Eat Mor Chikin” Cows.
Since June of 1995, when the first Cow billboard was erected in Atlanta, the “Eat Mor Chikin” Cows have become cult heroes, of sorts, convincing consumers to stray from the herd of beef-serving restaurants and satisfy their hunger with a delicious chicken sandwich, particularly one from a Chick-fil-A restaurant. The Cows have been seen cooperating to paint more billboards, supporting the cause throughout the South, as well as preventing bulldozers from constructing a fictitious “Circus Burger” restaurant on TV.
Altogether, the strategy has worked. According to the company, Chick-fil-A posted nearly $2 billion in sales in 2005, a 13.1 percent rise from 2004. It was the 38th consecutive year — every year since the company opened it first store in 1967 — that the chain enjoyed a system-wide sales gain.
The company credits its employees with the gains, but also believes that the expansion of the chain’s breakfast menu in the fall of 2004 contributed to the upswing in 2005.
New restaurants helped drive the growth as well, with 76 stores opening their doors for the first time in 2005. Geographic expansion remains a top priority, but Woody Faulk, Chick-fil-A’s vice president of brand development, says menu expansion is also in the works.
“Our customers have basically been pleading for us to add milkshakes to the menu,” said Faulk in a recent release. “Nearly 70 percent of the customers we interviewed said they wanted to see milkshakes offered at Chick-fil-A. More importantly, more than half of those customers said they frequented other quick-service restaurants specifically to purchase milkshakes.”
No word on how the “Eat Mor Chikin” Cows would feel about milkshakes, although given Chick-fil-A’s excellent marketing work throughout the years, it won’t be a surprise to see the Cows embrace the milkshakes in an imaginative way. NP