Zaxby's Just Announced Its Entry Into The Chicken Sandwich War

On October 26th, Zaxby's Twitter account quote tweeted the Popeye's original quote tweet that spawned the chicken sandwich wars of 2019, repeating the phrase "...y'all ready?" By October 27th, the fast food franchise released the "Chicken Confidential: Bulletins from the War Room", a press announcement concerning its new signature sandwich and sauce, in an attempt to reignite the chicken sandwich wars. "Anyone who thought the chicken wars were over," Dooley Tombras, president of Zaxby's creative agency Tombras, declared, "consider this your notice. They've only just begun."

Zaxby's new signature sandwich features breaded white chicken breast meat on a buttery, toasted bun with thick-sliced pickle chips and a choice of sauce. For now, these sandwiches are only available in Nashville, Knoxville, and Tri-Cities, Tennessee, as well as Louisville and Lexington, Kentucky; however, the sandwich will supposedly be offered nationwide in the future. This salvo doesn't seem to be a one off either, as Zaxby's Chief Marketing Officer, Joel Bulger, explained to QSR Magazine the branding includes new camouflage uniforms for workers: "The Chickenflage uniform signals to both employees and guests that the chicken sandwich war ain't over yet. Our hope is that wearing the shirts will make our employees feel engaged and proud to be a part of the fight to serve the best chicken sandwich around." Further stunts are planned, but smart armies don't reveal war strategy beforehand.

The chicken sandwich wars continue

Those who do not pay as much attention to chicken sandwich media may wonder what these self declared wars are. It began, like Zaxby's attempt to reignite it, with a tweet published by a marketing team — in this case, Popeyes. On August 19, 2019, Popeyes quote tweeted Chick-fil-A's statement "Bun + Chicken + Pickles = all the [Red heart] for the original" asking "y'all good?" Other brands, like Wendy's, entered the fray, and everyone fell into a general in a twit-fit. The fever was so intense that even the Associated Press (shared by Snopes) devoted an article to the inanity.

At the time, as HuffPost describes, Popeyes was only the 19th largest fast food chain in the U.S., while Chick-fil-A was one of the most successful. What made the snarky tweet into anything, however was not Popeye's marketing team. As Nicole Ronchetti, chief strategist at marketing agency Revolution Digital, explained to the outlet, the real point was to rile up devoted fans who would work as brand ambassadors on social media: "While not one of the traditional fast-food restaurants when you think about restaurant wars, Popeyes has always had a cult following. The brand loyalists are the people leading the charge on social." Looking ahead, the question remains whether Zaxby's can really pull off their attempt to continue the war. So far it seems to have failed, possibly due to how relatively small the chain is, but it might've at least convinced its fans to brave the pandemic for a taste of their new sandwich.