McDonalds franchisees write a letter to corporate asking for a “southern-style chicken sandwich” to compete with, ahem, Chick fil A. Popeye’s Fried Chicken launches a competitor and pokes the market leader on Twitter, attempting to start a social media flare-up that can only result in more awareness of their new offering. Wendy’s weighs in, suggesting they are the real winner here. Others wait in the wings.
The media breathlessly throws their weight behind Popeye’s because, as with all things, business is politics and politics is culture. And Chick fil A is at the very epicenter of the culture wars of 2019. Of course the media has an opinion.
We can’t fault Popeye’s for starting this fight. It’s a classic “Show Your Teeth” strategy from Killing Giants: 10 Strategies to Topple the Goliath In Your Industry (Portfolio, 2011).
But there’s another lesson that may yet spring from all this – and we’re watching to see when this next chicken patty will drop.
It’s when everyone is yelling at their competition that someone comes in from the blindside and takes the whole game.
It happened in headphones with Beats by Dre (wonderful interview with Noel Lee of Monster – the guy who came up with the idea in the first place – in The Killing Giants Framework on Kindle).
It happened in GPS, first with TomTom and then with the smartphone.
It can easily happen with chicken, too, because every culture in the world has a time-honored recipe that grandma used to make with a black cast iron skillet or pot of some kind, regardless of whether your DNA is Chinese, Russian, Mayan, Zimbabwean, or just plain old colonial times American.
Chick fil A might be at the epicenter of the culture wars, but its Achilles Heel might just be food culture – something far older, more personal, and more powerful.
More on this as it develops.