Popeyes, a case study: Crisis response takeaways for franchises

The chain’s chicken sandwich debuted this summer, spurring huge demand—along with a rash of violent incidents at its locations. Here’s the case for PR prep for franchise parent companies.      

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When Popeyes unveiled its chicken sandwich, company owners and franchisees alike were surely delighted to see the buzz spread like wildfire

That joy was soon dashed by an avalanche of negative news stories that made the fast-food chain a definitive example of why franchises are uniquely vulnerable to public crises, and why they must act quickly when such events occur.

It started with a homicide at a Maryland location, where one customer stabbed another for cutting in line. The story filtered through the news cycle, and for a while it seemed an unfortunate—and isolated—incident that could have occurred at any establishment.

Another story sprang up, this one about a fight between two Popeyes employees.  Then came a third hit: a fight captured on a bystander’s phone showing a male employee body slamming a female customer to the sidewalk, shattering her bones.

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