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    COMPETITIVE WATCH: Church's Chicken Targets Urban Youth Market

    Chain is launching new, interactive promotional initiatives to build brand recognition.

    ATLANTA -- Quick-service chain Church’s Chicken is beginning this year with a variety of new, interactive promotional initiatives that target mature, multicultural, urban young adults with the best of food, video games and mobile technology.

    Church’s entered a promotional partnership with SURGE, a studio and publishing label created by NAMCO BANDAI Games America Inc. The joint partnership culminated in the release of Afro Samurai, an animated video game fusing hip-hop overtones with Japanese-inspired themes. The video game will be officially released throughout North America today for the Xbox 360 video game and PLAYSTATION3 computer entertainment systems, the company said.

    Church’s Chicken, as the exclusive quick-service partner for Afro Samurai, will promote the game with the support of national TV and radio advertising on urban young-adult channels and outlets, in addition to in-store merchandising. The brand this week launched a traffic-driving Afro Samurai Enter-to-Win Sweepstakes to capitalize on the Namco’s heavy advertising campaign behind the video game launch. Church’s customers have the chance to win the $7,500 grand prize, as well as other prizes such as a customized Afro Samurai iPod player, a copy of the game or gaming console.

    The brand is also in collaboration with Coca-Cola on a promotion called Be Heard, which uses mobile technology to engage and interact with a younger segment of Church’s target audience. The Be Heard promotion, slated for implementation early this year, allows customers to text in a code after answering four simple questions about their recent Church’s in-store visit. Once submitted, customers instantly receive a bounce-back coupon for exciting offers. The promotion also offers participants the opportunity to win $1,000 in cash, to be awarded on a weekly basis for the nine-week promotion period.

    "Making sure that marketing campaigns are relevant, while resonating with our customer base is vital and always our key ingredient in planning," Church’s executive vice president and chief marketing officer, Farnaz Wallace, said in a statement. "The urban youth market is the second-largest and fastest-growing segment in the U.S. and an audience we see emerging as one of our core customers. It just makes sense to reach out to them in non-traditional media platforms where they socialize and play to supplement long-term brand building and recognition within this important group."

    While Church’s marketing recipe for success is going digital in 2009, the chicken chain said it will still continue to focus on new product introductions and innovative marketing initiatives that connect fresh consumer trends with the brand’s proven tradition of positive sales and sustainable success.

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