Clemson vs LSU- Tigers and Chicken Sandwich Trash Talk

The matchup between Clemson’s Tigers and LSU’s Tigers is a raucous event, with equally outlandish online sentiment around the matchup. So, how has chicken sandwich trash talk won a good chunk of this conversation, and how can your brand create the same online feeding frenzy? The results are thanks to a few key ingredients, revealed using social analytics!

The Tiger Rivalry

In case you didn’t know (and weren’t tipped off by the header image), these two teams both have Tigers for their mascots. So, beyond having a solid Southern states rivalry going on, there’s also the battle of “real tigers wear [insert your team’s color]” happening as well. Though it’s hard for LSU to assert purple too strongly, it’s okay. Its team is heading in to the matchup at #1 after all.

real tigers wear orange or purple, depending on team alliance

LSU hails from Louisiana, of course, and Clemson is South Carolina. They aren’t the named rivals of the other and haven’t had many matchups. So, beyond this being the College Football Playoff National Championship, what’s the hubbub, bub?

The showdown will cap off an incredible season for both teams as LSU seemed to rise out of nowhere and storm to the top of the SEC West, SEC and the country as a whole — all thanks to a record-setting year from Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow. Clemson, meanwhile, was able to somehow coast under the radar as the reigning national champions while still boasting the nation’s longest winning streak at 29 games.

It will be a hell of a matchup between the two top quarterbacks in college football. Burrow, who has 55 touchdown passes and a passer rating of 204.60, has a chance to put together the most prolific season in college football history. Meanwhile, Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence hasn’t lost a game through two seasons nor thrown an interception since Oct. 19, 2019. 

Game Excitement Online

The game will be exciting for many reasons. The night before the game, LSU was capturing the lion’s share of the conversation – and love:

the night before the game, LSU was capturing the lion’s share of the conversation – and love

And if fan power has anything to do with a win, LSU would have been a safe bet considering its win, hmm?

Either way, the sentiment around the matchup was strong. And chicken sandwich comparisons were inevitable, and undoubtedly lucrative for both sandwich shops.

What’s that now? Where did chicken make an entrance? The wheels were set in motion months ago . . .

What Do Chicken Sandwiches Have to Do with Tigers

Popeye’s is based in Louisiana, so the LSU connection is there. But Chick-fil-A is based in Atlanta, not South Carolina – so, what gives

The chicken sandwich wars of 2019 make the comparison inevitable. Well, that and the uncanny brand persona matchups between the two teams/quarterbacks.

football national title between Popeyes and ChickfilA

LSU is a lot like Popeye’s after all – “It became a national sensation, shattering program records and creating a mass rush of awards that have overwhelmed Tiger fans.” And we’ve seen Popeye’s general near hysteria, with crowds rushing to buy their new chicken sandwich. The online sentiment was so strong, it lead to stores selling out and fights over sandwiches in stores.

The LSU/Popeye’s energy is enormous – and chaotic.

Clemson, on the other hand, has lots in common with Popeye rival, Chick-fil-A. “Clemson is playing for a national title for the fourth time in the last five years, with five consecutive appearances in the playoffs overall.” And Chick-fil-A offers an impeccable, consistent experience for customers, in an environment that exudes efficiency, safety and care.

The Clemson/Chick-fil-A vibe is entirely professional. They’re there to get a job done and are known for doing just that exceptionally well.

And although Popeye’s has the volume, due its expert online marketing, don’t discount Chick-fil-A’s promotional potential. They have just as much love out there right now, as does Clemson:

LSU and Clemson love - and love for chicken too

So, with the rivalry between these two top football teams pulling in – and, in effect promoting – chicken sandwich shops, what can other brands learn from it? There are a few takeaways . . .

Takeaway #1: Don’t Undervalue Online

It’s really easy to view online as just another place your brand needs to be, but some brands are actually deciding it’s the only place their brand needs to be (from a marketing standpoint). Consider, again, Popeyes. After selling out of its latest signature sandwich, they decided to not advertise on TV:

Popeyes originally planned to use a lot of TV advertising to help launch its chicken sandwich this summer, but once the “chicken sandwich war” took off on Twitter, Popeyes sat on the TV commercial it had ready.

“Normally we do a lot of TV, a little bit of digital, and really push on launch—here we have the most successful product launch since I started here six years ago, and it involved zero TV advertising,” Mr. Machado told Sahil Patel for CMO Today.

This is a trend that’s bound to continue. Don’t find yourself at the tail-end of Social Media Marketing 3.0.

Takeaway #2: Make the Most of Your Analytics

When participating online, your activity is pretty pointless if you’re not tracking what works, what doesn’t and why. Next generation AI-powered social analytics offers amazing benchmarking capabilities that take brands well beyond surface, vanity metrics that include likes and follower count.

Capturing customer experience insight from an enormous variety of structured and unstructured sources, brands are able to turn billions of data points into actionable insight to:

  • Improve your customer focus to deliver more personal and relevant customer experiences
  • Identify opportunities throughout the customer journey to increase engagement and improve satisfaction
  • Effectively track brand sentiment and passion over time to measure your progress

And really so much more, including one tactic that deserves its own takeaway considering – influencer marketing.

Takeaway #3: Influencer Marketing of All Kinds is Amazing

While not a traditional influencer engagement, the Popeye’s/LSU and Chick-fil-A/Clemson tie-in offers the brands all sorts of amazing, unexpected potential. Imagine what a planned promotion with an influencer of your brand’s choosing could do?

Nothing is as effective and economical in acquiring new clients as word of mouth, with 74% of consumers identifying word-of-mouth as a key influencer in their purchasing decisions. NetBase identifies your most passionate brand advocates to extend your reach and influence others to act.

And then having the ability to track converged media – to see exactly how your owned, earned and partnered content is performing online is pretty beneficial too:

tracking converged media to better track influencers and understand the tiger and chicken conversations

Making the most of every online opportunity is impossible if your brand isn’t monitoring social analytics for potential opportunities. And that will leave the odds stacked against you in a matchup against an online insight savvy competitor. Reach out for an overview of your specific online landscape to stay ahead in the social stats and win the next brand awareness event relevant to you


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