Popeyes Keeps Mardi Gras Afloat in the Face of Covid Parade Cancellations

February 2021
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David Kaplan

Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen is trying to fill the gap left by canceled Mardi Gras parades in its hometown of New Orleans by festooning its locations to resemble the event’s famous floats.

The pall cast by the coronavirus pandemic and its incumbent social distancing measures loomed over plans for this year’s Mardi Gras, threatening to squelch the festivities that would normally fill the streets with color and music on Fat Tuesday (Feb. 16). In normal times, New Orleans event production company Kern Studios would be making some of the parade’s most flamboyant floats. Determined to keep the party alive, Popeyes tapped the company to turn about a dozen of its New Orleans outlets into temporary floats.

“We think our Mardi Gras initiative is a great example of how we believe that no matter what is going on in this world, Popeyes chicken can bring a little moment of much needed joie de vivre,” Popeyes CMO Bruno Cardinali told Adweek. “We believe celebrating Mardi Gras, in even a small way, at our restaurants can bring a bit of joy to our guests and the people of NOLA. The restaurants will help to keep Mardi Gras workers employed while also giving customers the opportunity to experience a little piece of Mardi Gras culture at Popeyes.”

As a brand, Popeyes considers itself intricately linked to the city’s sense of resiliency and nonstop party mood, which even the most dire circumstances cannot dampen. And while this is a local effort, the idea is intended to resonate with the brand’s legion of national fans, who see the QSR as representative of NOLA’s colorful qualities.

The Covid-19 pandemic is just one more adversity for Popeyes, as well as its home city and state, to deal with in its own unique way. At the moment, that means dealing with some restrictions to liberties typically taken for granted.

For example, Popeyes recently closed its last all-you-can-eat buffet in Lafayette, La. in response to health protocols required to contain the spread of the virus. That necessary decision was an outlier, according to Cardinali, while different business adjustments differed across the chain’s 2,500 locations.

“We aren’t able to comment on specific restaurant openings and closings at this time, but we can tell you that at Popeyes we have best-in-class cleaning procedures in place at our restaurants worldwide, which meet or exceed CDC guidelines,” Cardinali said. “Popeyes has a dedicated team of experts in food safety, which has been in close contact with government officials, whether the CDC in the United States or local health authorities around the world. Through these careful processes, we have been able to stay open to provide guests with food safely and quickly."