Popeyes Takes Print and OOH Ads in Crispy New Directions

May 23, 2022
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Popeyes might have created the crispiest print campaign ever in magazine spreads that replicate the distinctive crunch of the chain's fried chicken.

If you're thinking they used scannable QR codes or audio chips, think again. Instead, copy invites readers to crumple the ads. Doing so mimics the sound of teeth tearing into tenders and nuggets.

"We didn't want to create a print ad that sounded like Popeyes' chicken. We wanted to create a print ad that sounds exactly like Popeyes' chicken," says Danny Alvarez, executive creative director at GUT, which developed the effort. "We worked alongside foley artists and sound engineers and paper vendors to find the perfect material. By collaborating with audio experts, we matched the soundwaves of paper being crumpled with that of chicken being bitten."

Ultimately, the team chose Glama Natural Vellum, made with 100 percent cellulose fibers. "This creates a louder sound than your typical 8.5x11 piece of printing paper when crunched up," says Alvarez.

Separately, Popeyes' half-day chicken-prep process acquires an artful aura in striking images from acclaimed photographer Frank Relle.

Using long-exposure techniques, Relle transforms battering, breading and marinating into a surreal symphony of motion. Naturally, the kitchen action—displayed in newspapers and billboards across New York, Chicago and L.A.—shimmers with an orange Popeyes glow:

"We had to understand the cooks' movement patterns as they carried out their daily activities," explains Alvarez. "This was crucial to ensure that we would successfully capture beautiful motion over a period of 12 hours."

Both campaigns demonstrate that legacy media still offers broad creative opportunities, even for a brand well versed in celebrity promos, online marketing and splashy IRL stunts.

"We launched both campaigns first as print, since, in these instances, it was the format that best served to communicate [the brand message]," says Alvarez. "With that said, the ads have an upcoming social aspect as well, so we're not entirely eschewing digital."