Chick-fil-A Customer Story - Hero Image
Chick-fil-A company logo

How Chick-fil-A used Listening to successfully #BringBackTheBBQ

Company Size
35,000+ employees
United States
Featured Product
positive fan sentiment
increase in Chick-fil-A & BBQ sauce mentions on day of the return
messages responded to or reviewed within the first three days after the announcement
mentions of both hashtags within 3 months

The Challenge

In July 2016, Chick-fil-A replaced its Original BBQ sauce with a new Smokehouse BBQ variety. Immediately, fans expressed outrage over the change.

Through Sprinklr, Chick-fil-A quickly noticed a rapid increase in conversation and negative sentiment. Fans upset by the change began expressing this on social using #BringBackTheBBQ. Some even drew up petitions and boycotted restaurants.

Given the negative reaction, Chick-fil-A decided to #BringBackTheBBQ in what was their first product return in history. To make the campaign successful, they knew that they needed a way to reach hundreds of thousands of fans, especially the ones that had called for this change, in a way that was consistent across all touchpoints. Most importantly, they wanted to respond to fans personally to show how much the brand really cared.

Chick-fil-A needed a solution that would:

  • Provide a way to reach and engage with fans in real-time
  • Improve brand sentiment through the relaunch campaign

The Solution

Before launch, the team created new queues, dashboards, and profile tags to track the shift in volume and sentiment around the product change.

They also developed a “BBQ Sauce Return” tag with the publishing and scheduling feature to plan the campaign content in advance.

Creative agency Moxie and Sprinklr created a client dashboard so that members of the Chick-fil-A team could engage directly in the conversation and see real-time results. Sprinklr elevated community engagement by allowing five different members of the social team to manage individual responses to fans on one unified platform.

When the actual re-launch day came, Moxie, Sprinklr, and Chick-fil-A created a “war room” for those engaging directly with fans.

Using Sprinklr, the team was able to:

  • Respond individually to customers who complained about the change
  • Measure the effectiveness of the campaign through the volume of community management responses and fan responses received (UGC), BBQ sauce listening mention volume, hashtag volume, and conversation sentiment

With Sprinklr’s social listening capabilities, Chick-fil-A was able to identify the most influential and vocal fans who were upset by this change. The team chose the top 250 fans to surprise and delight with a custom S&D kit. Kits included T-shirts, bottles of the famous BBQ sauce, a BBQ sauce lunch box, and more. When the participants posted about their kits, the team was able to immediately engage with them.

The Outcome

Before the BBQ sauce change, Chick-fil-A saw only 130 mentions of BBQ sauce. That changed once the Original BBQ sauce was removed from stores.

From July to October 2016, Chick-fil-A saw a 923% increase in weekly mentions of “BBQ sauce” and #BringBackTheBBQ began. They received thousands of inbound messages and social mentions of the change. Fan sentiment plummeted to 73% negative.

In October 2016, Chick-fil-A listened to customers and brought back the product. Chick-fil-A launched #BroughtBackTheBBQ and saw a 188X increase in Chick-fil-A and BBQ sauce mentions on the day the sauce was returned to restaurants and over 1,000 mentions of both hashtags over three months. They responded to or reviewed more than 5,000 messages in the first three days after the announcement. In the end, fan sentiment flipped from 73% negative to 92% positive.

#BroughtBackTheBBQ stretched across the full span of brand-to-fan interaction, from one-to-one responses to community-wide engagement. By ensuring each guest felt valued and appreciated, Chick-fil-A built deeper relationships with their loyal fans.