While it’s true that Perdue employed a New York City ad agency and even started using marketing terms like “unique selling proposition” (USP), it’s also true that Perdue chicken became a valued brand because Frank Perdue really believed his chickens were better than anybody else’s.
And he made sure they were.
In the late ’60s, Perdue spent half a year on the road talking with butchers about what they wanted in a chicken. He then identified their 25 top priorities.
They liked yellow chickens, so Perdue’s chicken feed gave them a golden tinge. They didn’t like feather stubble on plucked chickens, so Perdue’s engineers developed a torch to singe them off. They wanted more white meat, so Perdue bred a heavy-breasted bird. And they didn’t want to see bruises, so Perdue set strict protocols for handling.
He obsessed about quality.
As a result, Perdue could charge more than competitors and still sell more chickens. But that didn’t happen because his ads were funny and quirky or because he ginned up a USP. It happened because he believed his birds were the best.
—Adapted from “The Lives They Lived: Chicken Hawker,” Joseph Nocera, The New New York Times Magazine.