Branding Win: Popeye the Sailor Man Prefers Chicken

Niraj Sharma |
 01/15/20 |
3 min read

Branding Win- Popeye the Sailor Man Prefers Chicken

What do you get when you cross powerful brand marketing with live television? A viral marketing moment where you see all of your targeted social listening pay off. For example, did you know that Popeye the Sailor Man prefers chicken now? Thanks to Popeye’s branding win, it’s now something that will be mentioned in marketing materials for years to come.

Move over, Oreo’s Dunk in the Dark, this is Super Bowl huge – or it will be once Popeye’s is done with it. They’re riding this viral wave for all its worth. Let’s see how!

The Answer That Lost $10,000

You may have noticed Family Feud mentions trending online and wondered what sort of silly answers contestants came up with this time. Survey says: You’d never guess this one.

In a sudden death round – for $10,000 – the question was: “Name Popeye’s favorite food?” You have to watch the answer to appreciate it, as it sure wasn’t the correct answer – spinach:

Contestant answering Popeye the sailor man question with chicken instead of spinach


Her family’s reaction sums up online:

her family's reaction to the popeye question

The response was split, with so many cringing at the loss, but others finding humor in it:

online sentiment around the popeye chicken confusion

And many admitting they would have made the same mistake:

proving the power of popeye's marketing prowess with many admitting they'd answer similarly

How could this happen?

Popeye’s is to blame! Look no further than their expert social listening team. Their marketing has been on fire since August of 2019, when it set off a Chicken Sandwich War. It created a frenzy that resulted in stores selling out of chicken and patrons having fistfights about it.

At least they accept responsibility – and are plucking this bird dry . . .

Popeyes Swoops in with $10k in Chicken

Eve Dubious may have lost $10k for her family, but she won so much more . . . for herself. She’ll get $10k worth of Popeye’s “chickeen” courtesy of the fast-acting company:

Popeyes chicken offering $10k in product to contestant

Not only that – she’s landing interviews from amazed talk show hosts, all pushing the $10k chicken gift gesture further along.

interviews extending Eve's and Popeye's online fame, and brand conversation

What could Popeye’s do next to keep this goodwill going?

Well, @sublimevey is quite a hit online. She could easily become a spokesperson for the brand. And she does have a signature dance after all . . .

Eve inspiring a chicken dance promo

And make no mistake – influencers don’t have to have millions of followers to be effective. Micro-influencers with engaged, relevant followers are equally valuable – sometimes more so. They offer a level of interaction and authenticity that makes followers feel known and valued. And there’s really no better marketing than that! Well, except for inciting a chicken sandwich war and giving away $10k in product to an amazing fan. Either way, everyone involved has already won. Everyone loves Eve online and the impressions around this little event have been huge. As has Popeye’s response.

sentiment is very high around the event, brand and contestant

Fortunately, they were @mentioned about it, to alert them to what had happened before it slipped away. Imagine if they’d missed out on this opportunity? A next generation AI-powered social analytics tool could alert them to mentions that don’t name them, specifically, as well as any spikes in mentions, drops in sentiment or potential condiment wars they may want to jump in on. Who knows?

Can your brand replicate this ‘wrong answer on Family Feud’s success? Absolutely. It requires killer touchpoints that seep into consumers’ subconscious, powered by a slew of consumer understanding.

And we know a place that offers exactly that – and then some.

Leading brands choose us because they intend to stay that way. Reach out and we can do the same for you! A demo is step one to having you off and running through consumers’ minds.

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