'Cows in Shining Armor'
By Jim Lovel
'For the ninth consecutive year, Chick-fil-A will begin selling its cow calendars in its restaurants at the end of this month.
The 2006 calendars feature the Atlanta-based restaurant chain's iconic bovines as renaissance heroes in this year's theme, "Cows in Shining Armor." The pages showcase some of the era's most famous legends, such as Angus Kahn, Charbroilemagne, Boldhoof and Lady Guineveal, in action scenes. The calendars cost $5, and each month contains a discount coupon for Chick-fil-A food.
The popularity of the calendars has increased each year. Chick-fil-A said it sold 337,000 copies of the calendar the first year. Last year, it printed 2.3 million copies, more than double the 1 million copies of Sports Illustrated's swimsuit calendar, and this year printed 1.5 million copies.
"We had no idea the cow calendar would be such an integral part of our marketing mix when we began producing them nine years ago," said Steve Robinson, the company's senior vice president of marketing. "Our customers love the coupon offers, but many buy the calendars year after year just for the comical cow illustrations."
Chick-fil-A's longtime ad agency, The Richards Group in Dallas, produces the calendars. Richards developed the "Eat mor chikin" campaign for the restaurant in 1995 with a single three-dimensional billboard of two cows painting the tagline on an outdoor display. The campaign has spread to print, television and radio ads and made the self-preserving cows the trademark image of the company.
The company said restaurant sales have tripled to $1.74 billion from just more than $500 million when the campaign began. Chick-fil-A operates 1,210 restaurants in 38 states and Washington, D.C.'