The game relies on facial recognition technology to challenge "users to stare at a virtual chicken without blinking, turning their heads or scratching their faces. If the user outlasts the virtual chicken, they win," AdAge reports. Seems innocent enough, right? As its app photo depicts, the chicken that users will stare down is life-like, not cartoonish.
The game concept itself appears half-baked, but the decision to have a realistic animal connect with potential customers seems like an absolute oversight. It's a PETA protest waiting to happen.
The fried chicken fast food chain wants its clientele to look deeply into the eyes of an animal they will -- hopefully -- consume at a later time. Whether gamers win or lose the stare-down is really of no matter; they'll be able to chow down on their opponent, which will be killed, deplumed and fried in the long run. If the chicken ever thought it was higher on the food chain than it currently is, this gimmicky app is sure to remind it who's boss.
Popeyes' Chief Marketing Officer, Hector Munoz, said Red Stick Staredown was designed "to educate consumers on the meaning of what Red Stick Chicken is." The food is made with Tabasco, and the "red stick" refers to the tool Tabasco uses to regulate a pepper's ripeness. Munoz said the "stare-down" is a nod to the patience required to harvest the perfect pepper.
So... customers are being asked to appreciate the growing process of the pepper plant? The appreciation for the livelihood of the chicken is not of apparent concern.
This is strange timing to develop a product that undervalues the life of an animal, considering 16 million Americans follow a vegetarian or vegan diet. (Many of whom, presumably, do so for ethical reasons. The Raw Food World reports that 69 percent of vegans choose their lifestyle to "support the ethical treatment of animals.") The animal welfare movement is growing quickly on a global scale. Heck, even IKEA, a furniture store, announced plans to serve vegan meatballs when customers voiced their dissatisfaction with vegetarian ones.
It's not necessarily Popeyes' responsibility to take on all of the concerns of animal activists. It'd be nice, if that's the word, if the company chose not to kill one bird with two stones.
The Huffington Post has reached out to Popeyes for comment and has yet to hear back. This post will be updated accordingly.