What does One Direction have to do with Burger King? Quite a lot, apparently.
In a recent event to hype the new Fiery Chicken Fries, Burger King's chief marketing officer, Eric Hirschhorn, said the company brought back chicken fries last year thanks to social-media hype, reports The Associated Press. Two of spikes in social media mentions of "chicken fries" that influenced the decision include a January 2014 Buzzfeed post titled "35 Foods From Your Childhood That Are Extinct Now" and a tweet from boy band superstar Liam Payne.
I'm so fulllllll!!! Think I just ate my body weight in chicken fries and sides owwwwww— Liam (@Real_Liam_Payne) May 31, 2014
Hirschhorn acknowledged Payne may have meant to type "chicken [and] fries," as opposed to "chicken fries." Scrolling through Payne's timeline makes his intention even clearer. Not only was he not referring to Burger King's Chicken Fries, but a previous tweet makes it obvious he was referring to an entirely different chain: KFC.
Now I may not be gay but I am in love with a man ... 2 words the kernel god bless you and your original recipe pic.twitter.com/NDzhTzXSgo— Liam (@Real_Liam_Payne) May 31, 2014
Nonetheless, Payne's tweet, which has been retweeted more than 94,000 times, led to plenty of fans discussing Chicken Fries in his mentions. The retweets allowed for the tweet to be divorced from context, leading to potential free advertising for Chicken Fries, even as Payne stuffed himself with KFC.
While the move to bring back Chicken Fries may have been based on iffy evidence, it has paid off for Burger King. In July, the company said that Chicken Fries helped drive second quarter same-store sales growth of 6.7 percent. The company is now doubling down on the Chicken Fries trend, launching the "spicy as $#*!" Fiery Chicken Fries on Tuesday.