DMNews talks with David Salyers, VP of marketing, Chick-fil-A

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David Salyers
David Salyers

David Salyers, VP of marketing for Chick-fil-A, explains why the company marketed its new Spicy Chicken Sandwich with an online reservation system, and how customers responded.

Q Chick-fil-A set up a website where customers could reserve a time and location to sample the Spicy Chicken Sandwich for free for six days (May 31 through June 5) known as “Premiere Week.” Why not a single-day giveaway?

A Last Labor Day, we had a day when you could come in and get a free Chick-fil-A sandwich. You just had to wear a logo of your favorite sports team. We had more than 2 million people show up, which we were thrilled about. The downside is that we weren't able to provide the kind of service that Chick-fil-A has been known for. [The reservation system] gave us the opportunity to know by name who was coming and when they were coming, so we could really be prepared to do an amazing job from a service standpoint.”

Q How many reservations were booked through the web?

A We had a capacity of about 1.25 million. We had a 99.8% sign-up rate.

Q How did you market Premiere Week to consumers?

A We have about 1.7 million Facebook fans at this point and about 1.2 million e-mail insiders. So we decided with our registration system that we could allow our customers who have reached out to us to have the first opportunity to try the sandwich… We've also had TV [advertising]; we've had outdoor; we did a 40- market radio campaign and online advertising buys.

Q What kinds of marketing challenges did you face?

A We're still pretty small in the region of fast food, so our budgets are much more limited. We feel like we have to be more focused on how we spend money. Historically, we've been grassroots marketers.

We do most of our marketing at the local level, through the local restaurants, in the local communities. What I think digital has brought to the table, is that it has allowed us to take the mass marketing, but give it a one-to-one, grassroots feel.

Q How have sales of the new sandwich measured up?

A They've probably exceeded anything that I would expect. So far (as of July 8), I think the latest figure I saw is just over 6 million since we started. It's been one of our most popular items

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