- Popeyes is partnering with hip-hop artist Megan Thee Stallion to develop a new Hottie Sauce inspired by her sassy personality, according to a news release. The brand shared a teaser clip for an upcoming music video-style short starring the "Hot Girl Summer" rapper that draws on Western themes and includes several Easter eggs for her fans.
- Dropping Oct. 19, the sweet-and-spicy Hottie Sauce will be added to Popeyes' chicken nuggets and chicken sandwich offerings. This is the first new variant of the sandwich since its 2019 debut. Working with creative agency Harper & Scott, the chain will also release three co-branded merchandise collections on TheeHottieSauce.com through November.
- The first collection, "Thee Heat," features bikinis, long-sleeve shirts, hats, tumblers and chicken tender-themed plush dog toys. People who enroll in Popeyes' rewards program before Oct. 18 will get early access to the lineup. Members will also receive 100 bonus points for ordering any eligible Megan Thee Stallion Hottie Sauce items online or via the brand's app, putting a stronger loyalty focus on the promotion.
Popeyes follows others in the fast food industry in prioritizing high-profile celebrity partnerships that can help the brand connect with fans and push more customers to increasingly essential digital and mobile ordering channels.
The Megan Thee Stallion team-up deploys a number of in-vogue tactics, including co-branded merchandise, special menu items developed between the artist and Popeyes' culinary team and video content set in a world that should be familiar to the artist's devotees. Megan Thee Stallion, who is now a Popeyes franchise owner, will additionally work with the chain on a six-figure donation to Houston Random Acts of Kindness as part of the effort.
On the marketing front, the "Wild Megan Hottie Sauce" teaser depicts her alter ego, Tina Snow, stealing the special sauce, which spurs Megan on a chase from her hometown of Houston, Texas, to New Orleans, where Popeyes is based. The spot includes a cameo by the musician's French Bulldog, 4oe, and visuals that reference her love of anime, which were executed by production shop McFlyy. Zerina Akers handled the costumes while nail art was done by Coca Michelle.
With the tie-up, Popeyes is looking to spice up its menu during a hyper-competitive period for fast food. The brand kickstarted the chicken sandwich wars two years ago with its mega-popular take on the concept, but reams of competitors ranging from McDonald's to Taco Bell now have their own offerings. Popeyes introduced chicken nuggets in July as poultry shortages weighed on the sector due to high demand.
At the same time, the collaboration is a clear loyalty play as Popeyes tries to drive more consumers to its rewards program. Signing up for rewards before the Hottie Sauce release will grant members exclusive information and early access to the merchandise, along with more points for select purchases — perks that are also available to existing users. Popeyes Rewards, the marketer's first loyalty platform, launched in June.
Celebrities continue to climb to the top of the agenda for fast food marketers. Since last year, McDonald's has struck a number of deals in which artists like Travis Scott and the K-pop group BTS hawk their custom orders to fans — a strategy that has had a positive effect on sales and mobile growth.
Burger King, in an apparent riff on the McDonald's concept, recently introduced "Keep It Real Meals" where stars that typically perform under a stage name, including the rapper Nelly, use their real names to hype up their preferred meals. The campaign, intended to celebrate the removal of 120 artificial ingredients from Burger King's menu, also features a nonfungible token component.