The animal farm has taken over Twitter.
Chicken Treat, an Australian barbecue fast-food chicken restaurant, introduced a unique marketing technique by hiring a hen named Betty to take over its Twitter account.
The company placed a computer in Betty’s coop for the past week, allowing her pecks and steps to publish tweets such as:
s`12Zqg1hbjuiq9QAIzuxudeedcxceecfcddd cvcccc Z q #chickentweet
— Chicken Treat (@ChickenTreat) November 19, 2015
The goal of Chicken Treat’s marketing campaign was two-fold: Along with gaining online hype for the restaurant, Betty would earn a place in Guinness World Records if she successfully tweeted a five-letter word in English. As of Thursday, her closest attempt was the word “bum.”
Journalists have pointed out the irony of Betty working for Chicken Treat, a company that gains revenue by executing those of her kind and barbecuing her friends for its followers. In the same way children are constantly exploited for political campaigns and getting their parents out of dinner parties, Betty has become corporate clickbait (and not the good kind).
I’m not a vegetarian, but this story rubs me the wrong way. For one, I can only imagine how this idea came about in a pitch meeting. Second, marketers turning to animals as promotional material can only lead up to a big fight with animal advocates. In fact, the nonprofit organization People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals clapped back at Chicken Treat by posting images of chickens in distress:
— PETA (@peta) October 17, 2015
Moreover, PETA attempted to translate Betty’s tweets from “0 j5cq0 OOOP 43 0 / g 2” to “All my friends will be cramped into hot metal sheds with barely enough space to move.”
While PETA might be lost in translation, Chicken Treat’s campaign reminds me all too much of Chick-fil-A’s ongoing slogan to “Eat Mor Chikin,” which showcases cows blatantly promoting the consumption of their poultry pals. Chick-fil-A’s campaign never deterred me from eating a burger, but it also didn’t stop me from picking up a spicy chicken sandwich on the way home.
Not surprisingly, Chicken Treat has previously used “guerrilla marketing tactics” to promote its brand. In an attempt to experiment with “social” and “out-of-home” approaches, Chicken Treat rented scooter boards to parade around Australia with short slogans such as “we don’t make you eat out of a bucket” to target rivals such as Hungry Jack’s and Kentucky Fried Chicken.
In the end, I’m not entirely convinced about buying Chicken Treat’s products. Beyond the fact that the closest location is several thousand miles away from me, this project was as nonsensical as Betty’s tweets. Moreover, exploiting animals for capital gain doesn’t always work, mainly because these advertisements are targeting humans who can’t identify with chickens or any edible animal for that matter. Other than the occasional drunk tweet, we have nothing in common with Betty the Hen, so what makes us want to invest in the brand she (unwillingly) represents? It was good entertainment while it lasted, but to chicken restaurants of the world: you can do better.