Popeye’s Scarcity Campaign (and how they avoided Scarcity’s evil twin SATURATION)

This content was originally a topic in our Members-Only forum area. We’re sharing it here against the backdrop of a breaking news story involving Popeye’s Chicken and their chicken sandwich release:

START HERE reading this article about the campaign (as well as other recent examples of big brands using scarcity): https://www.bizjournals.com/bizwomen/news/latest-news/2019/08/the-scarcity-principle-why-you-needed-a-popeyes.html?page=all


There is no question that scarcity works. This is one of the reasons that event marketing is so successful, as we learned in our most recent LIVE CALL: PLANNING Q4 EVENTS. Let’s take a look at the campaign from the point of view of the Popeye’s marketing team. How’d they pull it off?

  • They were able to identify the biggest threat to their new product launch which is what any astute marketer can accomplish when they complete a SWOT analysis just like the one in our Marketing That Matters course
  • They have so clearly identified their target persona that they were actually able to use their competitor’s audience to tap into ways to communicate their message to them (specifically, it’s interesting to note that Chick-Fil-A customers are accustomed to long lines, whereas that’s a rarity at Popeye’s stores).
  • They blended traditional, digital, and community marketing tactics to deliver a seamless message (although it resulted in a ton of chaos on the scene)
  • They increased market share and revenue as a result of their efforts.
  • They tested their people and systems and learned valuable operational insights that, if addressed, could help them improve their operational efficiency in ways that will pay for itself many times over the cost of their advertising investment.
  • They used BUZZ to build BRAND.
  • They built a campaign plan that was a part of a CALENDAR (just like the ones we build in our Process-Centered Marketing course) that had a beginning, middle, and end — and they STUCK with it. And perhaps this is the most critical element of all … sticking with it.

Sticking with their plan helped them avoid one of the most common marketing pitfalls that I see small business owners making all the time — SATURATION. In marketing, saturation occurs when a tactic is applied again and again, only stopping when it no longer works.

I get calls every week from people who say “We were doing _____ but then it stopped working”.Whether it’s billboards or radio or social media, people seem to talk in terms whether something WORKS or NOT.

But here’s the thing — unless tactics are tied to strategy that’s tied to a goal, it’s impossible to measure what the term “WORKS” even means.

That’s why I say — marketing only matters if it leads to revenue. 

Plenty of business owners are convinced that their marketing WORKS because they can’t prove it doesn’t … they get a few likes and follows, they have business coming in … who’s to say it doesn’t WORK?

Which leads to them doing “marketing things” until they no longer work — which is saturation. When marketing is made-up-as-we-go, it’s unavoidable.

We see something that works for someone else, like live videos and then we make up our own approach to try to replicate it for ourselves, and then we tell ourselves it’s working because we can’t prove that it isn’t–we get views and likes, who’s to say it doesn’t work?

And that’s why everything that we do here in MIX is aimed at moving from marketing that WORKS to marketing that MATTERS.

Popeye’s could have easily kept going with the hype, but by sticking with their well-executed strategy and moving on with their plan, they can instead sit back and enjoy the fruits of their labors … and a delicious sandwich (even on Sunday)!



* Here are some insights about how the Austin marketing company helped Popeye’s pull it off: https://www.austin360.com/entertainmentlife/20190826/austin-company-helped-popeyes-fried-chicken-sandwich-go-viral

*Here’s more information about SCARCITY marketing including important examples of how it’s done WRONG (and it’s frequently done WRONG): https://sleeknote.com/blog/scarcity-marketing

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