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Church's Chicken to Use Video Game, Text Message Promos in '09 Ad Campaign

Church's Chicken begins a new year with interactive promotional initiatives that target the mature, multicultural, urban young-adults with the best of food, video games and mobile technology. Church's Chicken announces the brand's promotional partnership with SURGE, a studio and publishing label created by NAMCO BANDAI Games America Inc. The joint partnership has culminated in the release of Afro Samurai, an animated video game fusing hip-hop overtones with Japanese inspired themes. The brand is also in collaboration with Coca-Cola on a promotion called Be Heard that uses mobile technology to engage and interact with a younger segment of the brand's target audience.

"Making sure that marketing campaigns are relevant while resonating with our customer base is vital and always our key ingredient in planning. The urban youth market is the second largest and fastest growing segment in the US and an audience we see emerging as one of our core customers," says Church's executive vice president and chief marketing officer, Farnaz Wallace. "It just makes sense to reach out to them in non-traditional media platforms where they socialize and play to supplement long-term brand building and recognition within this important group."

Afro Samurai, which is based on the acclaimed animated series, has a large cult-following. The video game has already gone gold and will be officially released throughout North America on January 27, 2009, for the Xbox 360 video game and entertainment system from Microsoft and PLAYSTATION 3 computer entertainment system.

Church's Chicken, as the exclusive partner for the quick-service restaurant category, will promote the game with the support of national TV and radio advertising on urban young-adult channels and outlets in addition to in-store merchandising. The brand will launch a traffic-driving Afro Samurai Enter-to-Win Sweepstakes on January 26th to capitalize on the heavy Namco advertising campaign breaking behind the video game launch in late January.

But Afro Samurai is not the brand's first foray into advergaming. Last year the brand had a successful run with the release of Soulcalibur IV, yielding approximately 17,300 online sweepstakes entries where nearly 20% of those entries actively requested to receive coupons and promotional information from Church's. The Soulcalibur IV promotion also increased traffic to Church's official website by an average of 30% and supplemented an increase in the brand's value combo sales.

"Gamers are an emerging loyal fan base akin to those of traditional sports like football or basketball. According to the Entertainment Software Association, 65% of American households play computer or video games. We made a strategic decision to be more steadfast in spending time, research and money in targeting to this growing influential segment," Wallace adds.

Mobile campaign
After conquering the gaming world, Church's Chicken sets its sights on a mobile campaign to tackle the power of text messaging. The Be Heard promotion, slated for implementation early this year, allows customers to text in a code after answering four simple questions - polling their recent Church's in-store visit. Once submitted, customers instantly receive a bounce-back coupon for exciting offers. The promotion wets more than the appetite with an opportunity to win $1,000 in cash to be awarded on a weekly basis for the 9-week promotion, and a Be Heard poster featuring artwork by notable visionary Kadir Nelson and an inspirational poem by acclaimed R&B artist Musiq Soulchild.

"With the rapid evolution of social and interactive technology like video games and cell phones, brands will be tested and graded on how their traditional marketing tactics intersect with emerging trends and digital past times. Pioneering new and exciting ways to connect with the younger demographic is ultimately the true testament to a brand's insight, marketing dexterity and creative shelf-life. Our loyal fans can expect us to deliver more value-driven promotions, whether through traditional or new media, that successfully connects and effectively resonates with them in the near future," says Church's director of marketing services and communication, Jennie Hong.
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