- Burger King will make a donation to the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) for every Ch'King menu item sold during Pride month. Through June 30, the chain will contribute 40 cents per chicken sandwich sold, with a maximum donation of $250,000, per the brand's tweets.
- The brand says the deal is applicable "even on Sundays," likely a shot at competitor Chick-fil-A, which is closed on Sundays and has a history of donating to anti-LGBTQ charities.
- The so-called chicken sandwich wars kicked off in 2019 when Popeyes debuted a highly sought-after sandwich. Since then, fast food chains including Popeyes, Chick-fil-A, McDonald's and Burger King have sparred in their marketing efforts over their various chicken sandwich offerings.
Burger King's latest promotion for its Ch'King sandwich ties into several marketing trends. On its face, the charitable donation to HRC, with a not-insignificant maximum amount of $250,000, demonstrates Burger King's commitment to LGBTQ advocacy in a way that could help the brand avoid claims of rainbow-washing, or companies making what critics find to be empty — if purpose-driven — gestures. Burger King has marketed around Pride for years.
More significantly, the sly mention of the offer being valid "even on Sundays" is an amplified version of the competitive sparring that has been typical of QSR marketing for years — albeit with its brief decline during the pandemic — and especially common as major chains compete in the chicken sandwich wars. Popeyes previously dinged Chick-fil-A for being closed on Sundays when promoting the return of its chicken sandwich, which sold out within weeks of its debut.
But instead of making a sarcastic jab over the freshness or flavor of a competitor's food, Burger King is taking aim at controversies surrounding Chick-fil-A's corporate donations to charities that hold anti-LGBTQ views by tying its sparring to the HRC donation. Chick-fil-A has faced backlash over its charitable giving since 2012, and in 2020 announced it would no longer donate to organizations like the Salvation Army and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, which have anti-LGBTQ views.
However, Chick-fil-A owner Dan Cathy is among the donors of the National Christian Charitable Foundation (NCF), per a report by The Daily Beast that was published on June 1. The NCF is working to kill the Equality Act, which would make it illegal to discriminate on the basis of sex, sexual orientation or gender identity in a variety of settings. Burger King's tweet about this new promotion came just two days after this report, suggesting it is timed to coincide with Chick-fil-A's latest controversy.
Still, boycotts have not hurt Chick-fil-A's bottom line, and it's unclear how much this latest promotion will boost Burger King's sales of the Ch'King, which debuted in May as a late entrant in the chicken sandwich wars. Burger King parent company Restaurant Brands International reported that Burger King saw 1.8% system-wide sales growth in the first quarter of 2021 compared with the same period in 2020, helping to offset declines from its sister brands.