The Greek Freak Tweet That Was Worth $300,000 to Chick-fil-A

Ash Jurberg
Image from WikiCommons images

What would you do if you had just won the first NBA title for your team in 50 years? Me — I would have the world’s biggest party for a week.

For NBA Finals MVP, Giannis Antetokounmpo, also known as the Greek Freak, celebrated by going to Chick-fil-A. And now it is the fast-food chain that is celebrating.

The Wednesday morning after he led the Milwaukee Bucks to the championship, Giannis — I will call him that as Antetokounmpo is too hard for me to type — pulled up to Chick-fil-A in need of food.

As he pulled up the parking lot, Giannis asked the female employee if he could film her, and she agreed — a move that benefitted Chick-Fil-A enormously. He went live on Instagram to film his order. He asked for 50 nuggets — “not 51, not 49” in recognition of the 50 points he scored in the final game. To accompany this has ordered a “large drink, no ice with half-Sprite-half-lemonade.”

150,000 people watched him place the order.
Screen shot of Twitter post

“I was supposed to be in Vegas right now partying, but I’m here ordering Chick-fil-A.”

Slam dunk — the MVP of influencers

The video generated 47 posts across Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, with a combined 36.3M impressions in the first couple of days. MVPindex, a “data-driven omnichannel measurement and valuation for the sports and entertainment industry," calculated the video earned Chick-fil-A almost $300,000 in brand value. With zero outlay.

When he was made aware of the value he was delivering to the brand, Giannis quickly tried to take advantage of the free exposure he was giving the company.

Of course, this led to more brand value for Chick-fil-A, whose marketing team must have been rubbing their chicken-grease-covered hands together with glee.

Free throw — using free PR

These marketing opportunities are brief, and there is only a tiny window for a business to take advantage of free PR. Wait too long or have one too many meetings on what to do next, and the chance is gone.

Chick-Fil-A’s are franchises, and it was the Pewaukee franchise that jumped onto Giannis’ tweet quickly. They replied to him saying, “I think we can arrange something ….”

Soon after, they announced a new beverage would be added to their menu.

“We all know this drink by now … and it officially has a name! The 50–50 (half sprite & half Chick-fil-A lemonade) is the official drink of CHAMPIONS! Stop by today to snag this winning blend!”

There were too many exclamation points in the post, but the idea was great. Other locations across Milwaukee followed suit.

It was quick thinking to launch a product to capitalize on the tweets.

Steal — the opposition jumps in

The good thing about social media is anyone can jump on board. And in this case, a few other companies tried to steal the opportunity by responding to Giannis.

First up was Wingstop.
Screen shot of Twitter post

Then a local Milwaukee restaurant, Culver’s in Shorewood, came off the bench and into the action.
Screen shot of Twitter post

The advantage Culver’s had over Wingstop's was that they were local, and this garnered the store extensive local press. The store then followed it up by updating its outdoor signage.

The owner made a clever marketing move as it received extensive coverage and tapped into the demographic most likely to be influenced by Giannis.

People who lived in Milwaukee.

Trade — Lebron leaves McDonald's

Elite athletes and fast food don’t necessarily make a good team. Take the example of Lebron James and McDonald's.

In 2010 Lebron James signed a deal with the fast-food giant saying at the time of the press announcement they “share some of the same core values,” and he liked their “wholesome image.”

It seems those core values didn't extend to actually eating the food. At a press conference in 2015, James told the media that he gave up McDonald's years earlier in a bid to improve his athletic performance.

As soon as he said that, Lebron knew he had made a mistake and quickly backpedaled stating, he had McDonald’s, “every day….I had it this morning. Egg-and-sausage McMuffin. All-day.”

Yeah, nice try, Lebron. It was too late to retract the statement. And besides, no one eats Egg and sausage McMuffins. No one!

Apparently, the sponsorship deal wasn't a fit, and soon after, James broke his agreement with McDonald’s, costing him $15 million. Of course, the man earns a lot of money in endorsements, but that would have hurt.

But not as bad as actually eating McDonald’s every day.

The post-game analysis

In my opinion, the key to going viral is authenticity, whether you are a celebrity or a regular person.

This is why the initial post by Giannis and his subsequent tweet has got so much attention. Yes, he has a big following, and many posts will gain traction, but it more than likely would have faded away quickly if it was a sponsored post.

The fact that Giannis did a spontaneous live stream and followed up with a request for free food gave authenticity and genuineness to them.

Chick-Fil-A also played it well by adding the new menu item, allowing fans of Giannis to order the exact item as their hero. It has already proven to be very popular as fans are swept up in the euphoria of an NBA title for the team for the first time since 1971.

Finally, Culver’s Shorewood managed to get in on the marketing opportunity without spending a cent — although their food bill may be high if Giannis takes them up on their offer.

In a time where every second person seems to be an influencer and brands get approached for free products in return for exposure, it is nice to see an unplanned post get extensive coverage.

And Giannis has managed to make Chick-Fil-A an NBA MVP alongside him. Who would have thought?

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