• “Eat Mor Chikin” – Chick-fil-A’s Billboard History

    Screen Shot 2016-06-19 at 6.33.38 AMADWEEK ran a terrific article on the history of Chick-fil-A’s very successful “Eat nor Chickin” campaign.  Some history and highlights from the article include:

    • In the early ’90s, Chick-fil-A was primarily known for being a mall-based fast-food chain, but beginning in 1994, the chain started slowly shifting its focus to freestanding units. With that shift came a new batch of competitors—big burger joints.

    • With its advertising budget constraints, Chick-fil-A couldn’t afford to spend the money on a TV campaign and instead was set on relying heavily on three-dimensional billboards, something that was nearly unheard of in the advertising world then.
    • Their first attempt featured an image of a rubber chicken —no logo, no tagline, just a lonesome rubber chicken. The idea was intriguing and garnered some buzz on local radio stations, but the billboard needed more substance if morning commuters were going to understand with just a glance what was being advertised.

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    • The next iteration, the “Double Drive-Thru” ad showing two cars that seemed to have crashed into the billboard. The president of Coca-Cola at the time loved the idea, calling up the Chick-fil-A team to compliment them on the clever ad.

    • The team’s next attempt came one step closer, with the inspiration coming from an unlikely place—Bart Simpson. At the time, one of Bart’s most noteworthy taglines, “Don’t have a cow, man!,” was seeping into pop culture.

    • An art director was driving down a highway, on his way home for lunch and a little hungry, when a billboard caught his eye. It wasn’t the subject of the billboard that intrigued him but rather the people pasting up a new ad. What would happen if the team of workers up on that billboard decided to take a lunch break midway through the task, leaving the ad unfinished?Put a couple of cows on a billboard and have them plead with burger fans not to eat them. And what if the cows were the three-dimensional part of the ads? They could be up there on the billboard ledges painting the messages themselves. Don’t eat cows, they would plead. Eat more chicken.
    • In 2006, they made their debut in the Houston Astros’ stadium. The brand secured prime real estate in Minute Maid Park: the foul polls, which the creative team renamed “fowl poles” and put baseball cap-wearing cows on top with the words “Eat Mor Fowl” on the side.
    • In 2012, Chick-fil-A scored the title of No. 1 fast-food chain in terms of sales per store, reaching $3.1 million per location. One year later, Chick-fil-A surpassed KFC in sales, despite having a smaller ad budget and closing on Sundays.

    Insider’s take:  Chick-fil-A and Cracker Barrel demonstrate that a well designed billboard campaign can be very successful, timeless and cost effective. The Adweek article is well worth reading.  You can also read about the campaign on the Chick-fil-A website Cows Page.


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