Phoenix claws? Fast-food chain collaborates with hit drama on chicken feet dish

Chinese-style fast-food chain Home Original Chicken (老乡鸡) has teamed up with the popular TV series Legend of Shen Li (与凤行, lit. Travelling with a Phoenix), starring Zhao Liying. The co-branded dish, interestingly, is chicken feet and wings with meigan cai pickles called “梅干菜凤爪翅”. It is a play on the fact that chicken feet are often called “凤爪” (phoenix claws) in culinary speak in China, so it fits the phoenix theme of the show. The fast-food chain also released exclusive co-branded merch such as stickers, pendants and fans.

Home Original Chicken was founded in 2003 as “Feixi The Old Hens” (肥西老母鸡), Feixi being a place in Anhui. However, it changed its name in 2012 ahead of its expansion into more regions. The official reason was that the original name was too long and might sound vulgar in other regions. In Cantonese-speaking regions, for example, the name sounds like a combination of several insults. The brand celebrated its 20th anniversary last year with free lunches across China and a short film.

On 8 April, Home Original Chicken released a letter to consumers, detailing its food safety promises, from the source of ingredients to the hygiene of its branches. It even went out of its way to livestream its kitchen to reassure its customers. This came after recent concerns about the quality of food at fast-food chains in general. On Weibo, China’s Twitter equivalent, the topic “Home Original Chicken publishes food processing grades” (#老乡鸡餐厅公示菜品加工等级#) reached number 8 on the Hot Search list with 27.21 million views.

The brand is currently expanding aggressively and set a goal of 10,000 locations (it currently has over 1,000 branches), which are mainly franchised restaurants. The chain has recently opened its 600 million RMB (82.90 million USD) regional headquarters for Eastern China in Shanghai. This came after it failed to go public in Shanghai. It seems Home Original Chicken is pursuing a two-pronged strategy of expanding with franchising but also safeguarding the quality and brand trust of consumers. The latest collaboration marks the chain venturing into IP co-branding, popular among Western fast-food chains and coffee and tea brands. This would see the brand attempt to raise awareness among the urban young, a key demographic for fast-food.


Join our newsletter