ATLANTA The 1,901-unit Popeyes Chicken and Biscuits chain will reintroduce itself as Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen in an ad campaign that begins next week, said an official from parent company AFC Enterprises Inc.
The new name reflects the brand's heritage of "Louisiana-inspired home cooking," said Dick Lynch, chief marketing officer. He said Popeyes' new "Louisiana Fast" positioning is slow cooking meets fast food.
On Monday the chain will begin airing 15- and 30-second cable television spots that feature a fictional young chef named Ed, who will surprise real customers in various Popeyes locations to tell them the story of the brand and its tradition of high-quality food.
"Louisiana as a food heritage is very powerful," Lynch said. "Ed gets on-camera reactions to his explanation of how Popeyes lives up to that heritage. Our new advertising is designed to resonate with our loyal customer base and appeal to a younger audience."
In addition to the TV ads, Popeyes will support its repositioning with a new logo, point-of-purchase materials and packaging, Lynch said.
The rechristening is the latest in a long string of attempts to reposition the fried-chicken specialist as more of a Louisiana generalist. Previous efforts have ranged from the addition of several New Orleans signature platters called Louisiana legends in the late 1990s, to the more recent experiment with a fast-casual variant called Cajun Kitchen. Franchisor AFC also tried a full-service Delta-themed venture called Tibb's.
The current stab at a brand overhaul follows parent AFC's posting of a 1.7-percent drop in same-store sales for its July-ended second quarter. AFC said earlier this week that it would focus on portability and value in order to drive traffic and sales.
As part of that strategy, Popeyes has introduced three value-priced menu items. "The Big Deals" promotion includes a Loaded Chicken Wrap, made with a crispy chicken tender and red beans and rice in a warm cheddar tortilla; the Delta Mini, which features crispy chicken on a small toasted bun with spicy Delta sauce; and a chicken biscuit with a side of hot sauce or honey. Each item is priced at $1.49.
Lynch said the three value items are the first of several that will be introduced throughout the rest of the year as Popeyes tries to compete with other restaurants offering lower-priced items.
As commodity prices rise, however, some franchisees of such quick-service rivals as McDonald's and Burger King have complained that value items simply aren't profitable.
Lynch said "profitable traffic" is the goal of Popeyes' new $1.49 items.
"We have margin requirements we need to meet, and these products meet them," he said.
Popeyes was founded in New Orleans in 1972. Atlanta-based AFC Enterprises operates and franchises units of the brand across the United States and in 25 other countries.