Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen launched what's been called "a perfect example of viral marketing" this week, offering an "emotional support chicken" meal for stressed-out flyers at its location in Terminal C at Philadelphia International Airport.
But the animal rights group, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, is not impressed with the stunt and has accused the chicken chain of mocking both mental illness and dead animals through its spoof promotion.
What are these meals you speak of?
On Wednesday, Popeyes began offering a meal in packaging made to look like an "emotional support chicken" being carried through the airport. In a news release, the company explained that its limited-time offering was intended to provide "a good-hearted laugh most need to get through stressful holiday travel." The meals are reportedly even "TSA friendly."
The description on the packaging reads, "This chicken provides comfort and nourishment during stressful air travel. Unlike other chicken, it is marinated in real Louisiana spices for 12 hours and must be permitted to fly without restriction. Do not leave unattended, as Popeyes is not responsible for lost or stolen chicken."
Sorry, Fido. Popeyes #EmotionalSupportChicken doesn't bark on the plane. (Available in the Philadelphia airport on 12/18.) pic.twitter.com/vWyBWq4PTe
— Popeyes Chicken (@PopeyesChicken) December 18, 2018
Popeyes' promotion garnered a lot of attention, from fans and critics alike.
How did PETA respond?
PETA slammed the restaurant's campaign on Twitter, accusing the chain of making light of those who rely on emotional support animals and of mocking "animals who died gruesome deaths." The activist organization also presented a cartoon drawing of "what the box would look like if it told the truth."
#Popeyes is selling boxes of dead “emotional support chickens" for the holidays, proving they're not above mocking mental illness AND animals who died gruesome deaths. This is what the box would look like if it told the truth about what goes into their food 😡 @PopeyesChicken pic.twitter.com/R7J2LABpYw
— PETA (@peta) December 19, 2018
The sign on the side of PETA's sad-looking cartoon chicken read: "This chicken needs emotional support. She had no comfort or nourishment during her incredibly stressful life. Like all Popeyes chickens, she was abused and killed and constantly restricted — never able to roam or fly. Popeyes is responsible for the slaughter of millions of chickens per year."