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TODD SMITH — Popeyes beefs up chicken sandwich relaunch

More than two months after Popeyes stopped serving its globally popular fried chicken sandwich, the fast food chain officially relaunched the sandwich last Sunday, Nov.3.

In sizzlin’ PR fashion, it picked a special day – National Sandwich Day – to boost already high consumer expectations for the poultry sensation’s rebirth!

While it was a fitting day to relaunch the long-awaited menu item, Popeyes also used the date to grill Chick-fil-A, which is famously closed on Sundays. Maybe the Great Chicken Sandwich War of 2019 isn’t over after all. Chicken sandwich mania is back in full force.

What will the second coming of the chicken sandwich mean?

The sandwich’s initial debut in early August launched a debate over fried chicken sandwiches and their place in the hierarchy.

The item quickly became a sensation. But what should have been a brand awakening for Popeyes became a nightmare. Employees couldn’t keep up with demand, hurting morale, and supplies quickly ran out.

We all thought Popeyes had pulled the plug on its chicken sandwich to spark more hype and demand. After all, this is a common marketing tactic used in the fast food world. Think McDonald’s McRib, Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spice Latte – and all things seasonal – and Taco Bell’s Nacho Fries.

In reality, demand for the chicken sandwich far exceeded Popeyes’ own expectations, which left the company’s supply chain unable to keep up with the demand. The company reportedly thought its initial supply of chicken sandwiches would last for a month, but America ate them out of house and home in just two weeks.

Popeyes CEO Jose Cil had to take to TV to let a hungry public know that the chain had officially sold out.

Popeyes is not crying fowl this time around. Franchises of the chain have reportedly hired an additional 400 employees (and designated two people per store as sandwich handlers) to satisfy a hungry public!

Twitter Bans Political Ads Ahead of 2020 Elections

Twitter recently banned all political advertising from its platform – reacting to a concern about misinformation fueled by social media.

The move is in sharp contrast to Facebook’s stance, which continues to defend running paid political ads, even false ones, as a free speech priority.

“While internet advertising is incredibly powerful and very effective for commercial advertisers, that power brings significant risks to politics, where it can be used to influence votes to affect the lives of millions,” Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey said in a series of tweets announcing the new policy.

Facebook has taken fire since it reiterated in September that it will not fact-check ads by politicians or their campaigns, which could allow them to lie freely, according to the Associated Press.  CEO Mark Zuckerberg told Congress last month that politicians have the right to free speech on Facebook.

In light of the Twitter move, Zuckerberg wasted no time responding. During Facebook’s conference call for earnings, which began less than an hour after Dorsey’s tweet, the Facebook leader offered an impassioned monologue about what he called his company’s deep belief “that political speech is important,” according to AP.

Zuckerberg has consistently stood by the company’s decision to run unchecked political ads and denied that the choice is financially motivated, saying such ads make up less than half of a percent of Facebook revenue.

Political advertising makes up a small sliver of Twitter’s overall revenue. The company does not break out specific figures each quarter but said political ad spending for the 2018 midterm election was less than $3 million. It reported $824 million in third-quarter revenue.

And candidates spend significantly more purchasing ads on Facebook than on Twitter, company records show, according to AP.

The issue surfaced earlier this fall when Twitter, along with Facebook and Google, refused to remove a misleading video ad from President Donald Trump’s campaign that targeted presidential candidate Joe Biden.

In response, Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren, another presidential hopeful, ran her own ad on Facebook taking aim at Zuckerberg. The ad falsely claimed that Zuckerberg endorsed President Donald Trump for re-election, acknowledging the deliberate falsehood as necessary to make a point.

Misleading political ads on social media played a major role in Russian disinformation efforts during the 2016 presidential election.

Crashed Mic: Samsung ‘Space Selfie’ Satellite Plummets into Michigan Farm

Call it the ultimate PR crash!

A device used by Samsung to launch a mobile selfie into space recently made a dramatic return to Earth.

This publicity stunt was definitely out of this world, even by Samsung’s standards. The “SpaceSelfie” program involved a photo of actress Cara Delevingne that was taken on a Galaxy S10 Plus and was supposedly “the world’s first selfie sent to space.”

A camera inside the capsule was pointed at the phone displaying the selfie. Users could then upload their own photos to a website for a chance to see them displayed on the screen of the smart phone on board the satellite balloon.

Imagine the surprise when a resident of Gratiot County, Michigan, heard a loud crash outside her farmhouse, and discovered a large satellite-looking contraption in her backyard.

“Unbelievable look what just fell out of the sky and 911 is baffled and it’s caught up in our tree,” Nancy Mumby-Welke posted to Facebook along with a photo from the Gratiot County Herald.

“We realized it had fallen from the sky,” Mumby-Welke told NBC News. “It looked like a satellite.” The device carried both a Samsung logo and that of South Dakota-based high-altitude balloon manufacturer Raven Industries, which eventually came to collect the crashed apparatus.

The crashed satellite included an aluminum foil-wrapped box and solar panels. Local authorities closed a portion of a nearby road to remove another part of the contraption, a large, deflated balloon that lodged in power lines. Some residents had their electricity cut off for two hours while crews worked to remove the deflated balloon, according to ABC News.

“No injuries occurred, and the balloon was subsequently retrieved,” Samsung told NBC. “We regret any inconvenience this may have caused.” The company claims the landing was “planned” and happened in a “selected rural area.”

“Our relentless pioneering spirit continues to show that amazing things happen on Samsung screens – even from the stratosphere.” Samsung Europe CMO Benjamin Braun said at the launch event. “Our ethos is Do What You Can’t and the Samsung SpaceSelfie is just that. We continually break the boundaries of what is possible with innovation and tonight’s SpaceSelfie launch is no different.”

This was truly a PR galaxy away from the Ellen DeGeneres at the Oscars selfie promo Samsung did in 2014. It was far, far from that – and was truly in another orbit, on another planet, perhaps. 

Unfortunately for Samsung, this PR dud lived up to the axiom, what goes up must come down. And crashing down it came!

» TODD SMITH is co-founder, president and chief executive officer of Deane | Smith, a full-service branding, PR, marketing and advertising firm with offices in Jackson. The firm – based in Nashville, Tenn. – is also affiliated with Mad Genius. Contact him at todd@deanesmithpartners.com, follow him @spinsurgeon and like the ageny on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/deanesmithpartners, and join us on LinkedIn  http://www.linkedin.com/company/deane-smith-&-partners.

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