Buz­zfeed, One Di­rec­tion spurred chicken fries: BK

The China Post - - ARTS - BY CANDICE CHOI

Fans of Burger King’s chicken fries may have the boy band One Di­rec­tion and the web­site Buz­zfeed to thank for the re­turn of the skinny fried sticks.

At an event to hype a spicy ver­sion of the chicken fries com­ing out this week, Burger King said it de­cided to res­ur­rect the fries last year af­ter see­ing the en­thu­si­asm they gen­er­ated on so­cial media.

Eric Hirschhorn, chief mar­ket­ing of­fi­cer for Burger King North Amer­ica, said the com­pany no­ticed a spike in chicken fry men­tions in Jan­uary 2014 that was traced to a Buz­zfeed post ti­tled “35 Foods From Your Child­hood That Are Ex­tinct Now.”

One of the items on the list was chicken fries, which Burger King sold be­tween 2005 and 2012.

A few months later, Hirschhorn says there was an even big­ger surge when a One Di­rec­tion mem­ber men­tioned them. The com­pany pointed to a tweet by Liam Payne that reads, “I’m so ful­l­l­l­lll!!! Think I just ate my body weight in chicken fries and sides owwwwww.”

The tweet, which has more than 94,000 retweets, is con­fus­ing be­cause Burger King hadn’t yet brought back chicken fries. That raises the pos­si­bil­ity that Payne just left out a comma, and meant to say he ate chicken and fries — not chicken fries.

A pre­ced­ing tweet also made it ap­pear that Payne was eat­ing at KFC, noted busi­ness news out­let En­tre­pre­neur. That tweet in­cluded an im­age of Colonel San­ders and the words “the ker­nel god bless you and your orig­i­nal recipe.”

A rep­re­sen­ta­tive for Payne said the singer wasn’t avail­able for com­ment. A Burger King rep­re­sen­ta­tive said in an email: “What­ever he meant, it cer­tainly helped cat­a­pult ‘Chicken Fries’ into pop cul­ture con­scious­ness as a fol­low up to the Buz­zfeed story.”

Even if Burger King mis­in­ter­preted Payne’s tweet, it worked out for the com­pany. The re­turn of chicken fries as a lim­ited-time of­fer last sum­mer was suc­cess­ful enough that Burger King added them to its per­ma­nent menu this March. A nine-piece box costs around US$3.

Hirschhorn said peo­ple tend to get them as an ex­tra, which drives up the amount peo­ple spend. Last month, Burger King’s par­ent com­pany Res­tau­rant Brands In­ter­na­tional said sales rose 7.9 per­cent at es­tab­lished stores in the U.S. and Canada for the latest quar­ter.

Burger King may have brought back chicken fries even with­out the so­cial media en­cour­age­ment.

Since be­ing taken over by in­vest­ment firm 3G Cap­i­tal, the chain has leaned heav­ily on its past for ideas. In ad­di­tion the King and Sub­servient Chicken char­ac­ters, it has res­ur­rected its Big King sand­wich and Yumbo ham sand­wich.

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