Church's Chicken Hypes Afro Samurai

Church's Chicken, home of quite possibly the best fast-food fried chicken on the planet, has teamed up with Namco Bandai's Surge label to promote the release of Afro Samurai.

The famed fried chicken franchise will be plastering stores, radios, and televisions with advertisement's promoting the video game, which is based off of an animated cartoon featuring the voice of Samuel L. Jackson. Restaurant customers will be able to participate in the Afro Samurai Enter-to-Win Sweepstakes, with a $7,500 grand prize up for grabs, as well as an Afro Samurai iPod.

The press release from Church's is calling this "advergaming", citing their SoulCalibur IV promotion last year as another example of this. Just figured I'd pass along the news and maybe let Church's PR know that no...this is not "advergaming". This is "advertising" for a game.

Church’s Chicken® Uses “Advergaming” and Text Messaging to Connect with a Cross Section of Urban Young-Adults

Church’s Chicken's New 2009 Promotions Connect Drumsticks and Joysticks

ATLANTA—(BUSINESS WIRE)—Church’s Chicken® begins a new year with interactive promotional initiatives that target the mature, multicultural, urban young-adults with the best of food, video games and mobile technology. Church’s Chicken announces the brand’s promotional partnership with SURGE, a studio and publishing label created by NAMCO BANDAI Games America Inc. The joint partnership has culminated in the release of Afro Samurai, an animated video game fusing hip-hop overtones with Japanese inspired themes. The brand is also in collaboration with Coca-Cola® on a promotion called Be Heard that uses mobile technology to engage and interact with a younger segment of the brand’s target audience.

Church’s Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, Farnaz Wallace said, “Making sure that marketing campaigns are relevant while resonating with our customer base is vital and always our key ingredient in planning. The urban youth market is the second largest and fastest growing segment in the US and an audience we see emerging as one of our core customers. It just makes sense to reach out to them in non-traditional media platforms where they socialize and play to supplement long-term brand building and recognition within this important group.”

Afro Samurai, which is based on the acclaimed animated series, has a large cult-following. The video game has already gone gold and will be officially released throughout North America on January 27, 2009, for the Xbox 360® video game and entertainment system from Microsoft and PLAYSTATION®3 computer entertainment system.

Church’s Chicken, as the exclusive partner for the quick-service restaurant category, will promote the game with the support of national TV and radio advertising on urban young-adult channels and outlets in addition to in-store merchandising. The brand will launch a traffic-driving Afro Samurai Enter-to-Win Sweepstakes on January 26th to capitalize on the heavy Namco advertising campaign breaking behind the video game launch in late January. For the promotion, Church’s customers will have the chance to win the $7,500 grand prize as well as other prizes including a customized Afro Samurai iPod player, a copy of the game or gaming console.

But Afro Samurai is not the brand’s first foray into “advergaming”. Last year the brand had a successful run with the release of Soulcalibur IV®, yielding approximately 17,300 online sweepstakes entries where nearly 20% of those entries actively requested to receive coupons and promotional information from Church’s. The Soulcalibur IV promotion also increased traffic to Church’s official website by an average of 30% and supplemented an increase in the brand’s value combo sales.

“Gamers are an emerging loyal fan base akin to those of traditional sports like football or basketball. According to the Entertainment Software Association, 65% of American households play computer or video games. We made a strategic decision to be more steadfast in spending time, research and money in targeting to this growing influential segment,” Wallace added.

After conquering the gaming world, Church’s Chicken sets its sights on a mobile campaign to tackle the power of text messaging. The Be Heard promotion, slated for implementation early this year, allows customers to text in a code after answering four simple questions - polling their recent Church’s in-store visit. Once submitted, customers instantly receive a bounce-back coupon for exciting offers. The promotion wets more than the appetite with an opportunity to win $1,000 in cash to be awarded on a weekly basis for the 9-week promotion, and a Be Heard poster featuring artwork by notable visionary Kadir Nelson and an inspirational poem by acclaimed R&B artist Musiq Soulchild.

“With the rapid evolution of social and interactive technology like video games and cell phones, brands will be tested and graded on how their traditional marketing tactics intersect with emerging trends and digital past times. Pioneering new and exciting ways to connect with the younger demographic is ultimately the true testament to a brand’s insight, marketing dexterity and creative shelf-life. Our loyal fans can expect us to deliver more value-driven promotions, whether through traditional or new media, that successfully connects and effectively resonates with them in the near future,” says Church’s Director of Marketing Services and Communication, Jennie Hong.

While Church’s marketing recipe for success is going digital in 2009, the chicken chain will still continue to focus on new product introductions and innovative marketing initiatives that connect fresh consumer trends with the brand’s proven tradition of positive sales and sustainable success.