Marketing

Chicken Treat to ruffle feathers with new marketing strategy: Should businesses poke fun at competitors?

Broede Carmody /

 

The West Australian takeaway chain catapulted into the spotlight earlier this week thanks to its tweeting chicken is now taking a cheeky swipe at its competitors.

Chicken Treat is trying to get itself into the Guinness World Records book by helping a hen called Betty become the first chicken to send a tweet.

In a bid to keep its publicity momentum going, Chicken Treat is paying people to drive scooters around Perth with billboards attached that make fun of rival takeaway outlets.

The billboards include phrases such as “Dominos. Isn’t that a game for Oldies?” and “Macca’s is for clowns”.

Mimma Battista, the chief executive of Chicken Treat, told Mumbrella sales have risen by as much as 8% since the takeaway chain renewed its marketing strategy.

“All of our competitors are playing the regular guy so we, as the challenger brand, wanted to bring some fun into our marketing and find unique ways to engage with consumers,” Battista said.

“We are the jester brand. Our intention is to be cheeky and light-hearted.”

But is it a good idea to poke fun at your competitors?

Michelle Gamble, founder and chief executive of Marketing Angels, told SmartCompany poking fun at your competitors can be a risky move.

“But with any risk there’s a potential for really high return,” Gamble says.

“It’s an investment in an advertising style that can either bite you on the bum pretty hard … or it can provide really good returns.

“It sounds like these guys have mastered the black art of doing it, though, in that the chicken tweeting idea has gotten them a little bit of a brand name and then they’ve quickly leveraged that by using these clever and funny billboards.”

But Gamble says it is important for small businesses to understand they cannot defame people in their advertising.

However, in this instance, she says Chicken Treat is employing a “tongue-in-cheek style” which is highly effective.

Gamble also points out it is good to see a business leverage its current high level of brand awareness as often some businesses pull off a viral stunt but then disappear.

“It’ll create a brand personality for them because they’ll be seen as clever and funny and people will engage with that,” she says.

“They’re all over it, they know exactly what they’re doing and they’ve done it with great flair.”

 

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Broede Carmody

Broede Carmody is a former senior SmartCompany reporter. Before this, he was a co-editor of RMIT University's student magazine Catalyst.

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