By Karyn Buxman. This was originally published on Karyn's blog.
Flying can be stressful any time of the year, but the holiday season can be especially nerve-wracking: Fretful flights. Cranky crews. Pissy passengers. Instead of instructing people to buckle their seatbelt, flight attendants might be better served to have people fasten their straight jackets! If only there was a way to deal with the strain…
But wait—Popeyes Chicken comes to the rescue! Many passengers traveling through the Philadelphia International Airport during Christmas week 2018 skipped the Philly Cheesesteaks and grabbed a to-go box that also served as an Emotional Support Chicken. Yes, I said, “Emotional. Support. Chicken.”
These chickens don’t bite, they’re TSA-friendly, and they’re “cheap” comfort food. (Sorry, I just can’t resist a good chicken pun.)
Popeyes Chicken thought this emotional support animal wouldn’t ruffle any feathers…but they were wrong. PETA and its supporters squawked that this stunt was insulting and in poor taste:
Whether it’s politics, religion or how a dress affects the visual perception of your derrière, people are hesitant to joke about nearly anything these days for fear of offending someone. And while I’m all about inclusive humor, the fact of the matter is that jokes always have a target.
I love Mike Birgbilia’s insight in his brilliant one-man comedic show, “Thank God for Jokes,” that jokes are, by nature, a volatile type of speech. His mom once posed the question to him, “Well can’t these writers just write jokes that aren’t offensive?” He turns to the audience and observes, “I thought about it. And I said, ‘I’m not sure that’s possible, because all jokes are offensive to someone’.”
In my book, Funny Means Money. Strategic Humor for Influence & World Domination (ForbesBooks, 2019) I discuss how to make your humor 99% safe. But safe isn’t always going to get you to your desired outcome. While Popeyes may have offended a few, they entertained and comforted thousands of passengers—and they reached millions more on TV, radio and social media…Especially after PETA took them to task and created a twitterstorm. But they seem to have shot themselves in the foot, as the vast majority of people didn’t take offense, and, in fact, they thought that emotional support chickens were hilarious. Many tweets were similar to this one: “Emotional support chickens are FUNNY. And all this brouhaha makes me hungry for chicken!”
In my estimation, Popeyes’ strategic use of humor was a savvy marketing move. Their digital footprint is still spreading as we speak!
Scowl if you must, but I’m putting Popeyes Chicken on Santa’s “Nice” list for delivering holiday cheer and spreading humor to a population that is hungry for it.
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