ATLANTA - For 17 years, the Chick-fil-A's renegade Cows have entertained consumers with their desperate, self-preserving antics in an effort to convert beef eaters into chicken fans. The Chick-fil-A Cows and the "Eat Mor Chikin®" campaign have enjoyed such widespread public success that the chain has turned the theme into a highly successful, fully integrated marketing program.
From zany storylines involving Cows parachuting into a football stadium to billboard campaigns featuring the Chick-fil-A Cows' famous quotes such as "Lose That Burger Belly," the "Eat Mor Chikin" marketing campaign has propelled the Cows into national brand identities for the Atlanta-based chain. In addition to clever roadside billboards, the "Eat Mor Chikin" Cows are the focal point of Chick-fil-A's in-store point-of-purchase materials, promotions, radio and TV advertising, and clothing and merchandise sales.
Created by Dallas-based The Richards Group, the "Eat Mor Chikin" campaign was first introduced in 1995 as a three-dimensional billboard concept depicting a black-and-white cow sitting atop the back of another cow painting the words "Eat Mor Chikin" on the billboard. Within the year, The Richards Group and Chick-fil-A turned the billboard concept into an integrated campaign that included in-store point-of-purchase materials and a radio commercial.
"Chick-fil-A came to The Richards Group with big dreams and a small budget," said Stan Richards, founder and principal for The Richards Group. "They needed a campaign that would help them raise awareness and compete against the big burger chains, while preserving their unique philosophies and culture."
The "Eat Mor Chikin" campaign is often cited as an example of creative, integrated marketing in advertising textbooks across the country, as well as a strategic teaching tool to future marketers. The campaign also has been well-recognized by the advertising community - receiving some of the industry's most prestigious awards.
In 2009, the Chick-fil-A "Eat Mor Chikin" campaign was recognized by the American Marketing Association with a second Silver EFFIE Award for sustained success in creativity and effectiveness in advertising.
In 2007, the Chick-fil-A "Eat Mor Chikin" Cows were recognized as one of America's most popular advertising icons in a public vote sponsored by Advertising Week and became the newest members of New York's Madison Avenue Advertising Walk of Fame. A permanent banner to recognize this achievement is displayed on Madison Avenue in New York City.
In 2006, the Cows were inducted into The Outdoor Advertising Association of America's (OAAA) OBIE Hall of Fame. OAAA presents the award annually to brands that have displayed outstanding outdoor creative work over an extended period of time. In addition to being inducted into the OBIE Hall of Fame, the Cow campaign has been recognized with some of the most prestigious awards in the advertising industry.
In 1998, the New York American Marketing Association recognized the Cows with the Silver EFFIE award in the Fast Food/Restaurants category for creativity and effectiveness in advertising. The Cows showed their international appeal in 1997 when they were presented with the Silver Lion award for outdoor advertising at the Cannes International Advertising Festival, held in Cannes, France. In 1996, the Cows received the 1996 OBIE Award, one of the oldest and most prestigious honors for creative excellence in advertising for outdoor advertising in the restaurant and food category.
This innovative campaign has proven that customers are listening to these humorous bovine antics and suggestions to "Eat Mor Chikin." Since the campaign debuted in 1995, Chick-fil-A sales have increased more than six-fold, from just over $500 million in 1995 to more than $4 billion in 2011.
"This campaign has been more successful than we ever imagined it could be," said Steve Robinson, Chick-fil-A's senior vice president of marketing. "The Cows started as part of our advertising campaign, and now they have become part of our passion and our brand."
Most recently, Chick-fil-A launched their newest Cow Calendar "Trail Grazers: Blazing New Paths That All Lead to Chicken", pays tribute to some of world history's bravest human explorers. Twelve courageous bovines that ventured into new frontiers by air, land and sea are featured in the calendar, proving that cows can do more than make a good meal.
On July 13, 2012, Chick-fil-A will once again honor the "Eat Mor Chikin" Cows on Cow Appreciation Day, an unofficial, yet nationally recognized holiday. As part of the promotion, anyone who visits any of the chain's restaurants dressed as a cow on Cow Appreciation Day receives a free Chick-fil-A Meal.
"The Cows have continued to stay popular with our audiences," added Robinson. "They are endearing personalities and are staunch supporters of chicken, and our consumers not only find them humorous, but they enjoy seeing what they might say or do. You never know where the Cows might end up next."
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