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Chick-Fil-A: “Out of the Frying Pan and Into the Fire”

Chick-Fil-AIf you haven’t already heard, Chick-fil-a, a southern food chain known for its delicious chicken sandwiches and friendly atmosphere, has come under extreme criticism after CEO Dan Cathy stated his support for “traditional” marriage. Chick-fil-a, who closes down on Sundays in respect of its Christian principles, is now under heavy fire for their beliefs. In traditional times people would take to the street to protest companies out front of their establishments, but in today’s tech-savvy community people are taking to the likes of social media. People’s outcries on social media against Chick-fil-a have become the company’s worst nightmare.

What Started it All?

Things started spiraling out of control when anti-Chick-fil-a statements began to flood in across the company’s Facebook timeline. People opposed to Dan Cathy’s stance on gay marriage wrote countless posts criticizing him and the values under which he operates his company. Chick-fil-a still uses their page to post updates about the company and the current happenings, including statements about the conundrum they’ve got themselves into. The question then becomes, “Is still using these flooded social media outlets useful?” For companies like Chick-fil-a it doesn’t hurt to keep “fans” informed via statuses, but it’s best to abandon any other operation (i.e. offering promotions, promoting events, etc.).

What Can We Learn from this Event?

Now we’re not here to argue about gay marriage, what Dan Cathy said, or anything else related – its important to focus on the importance of what to do when you or your company falls into a social media nightmare after taking a strong stance or making an unfavorable remark. Although people are coming down on Chick-fil-a, others are choosing to support them and applaud their right of free speech. If you choose to make a seemingly controversial statement then you must most importantly stand by what you said. There are always certain sides to an argument and they can all be seen on various social media platforms, but standing by what you said makes sure that your online self matches your normal self – one of the most important things to do when it comes to social media.

A Simple Solution – Honesty

Its unlikely that Chick-fil-a will offer an apology, the owners of the company fully stand behind their religious principles and whatever effect they may have on their company. When it comes to their social media, the company needs to make sure it doesn’t fight fire with fire. Making schemes to combat all the negativity flooding their way will not help the company rebound from the public outcry. They need to focus on being honest – that’s the bottom line for any company or person when it comes to social media.

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15 Responses to “Chick-Fil-A: “Out of the Frying Pan and Into the Fire””

  1. 1. People who do not know Jesus as their Lord, Savior, and King often confuse faith and religion; they are extremely unique with few areas of compatibility.

    2. There was no poor choice of words by Dan Cathy.

    Jesus clearly stated that anyone who denies Him denies the Father.

    Family values do matter; and I’m proud Dan Cathy had the courage to stand up for family values.

    3. There are other business stewards out there who are completely unashamed of their Faith in Jesus as Lord, Savior, and King.

    http://www.dynamicnet.net/2012/05/applying-faith-jesus-customer-service/ – all of our customers know where we stand in relation to Jesus — on our knees before Him.

    While we have lost customers over our public expression of Faith; we’ve also gained customers who appreciate our stance.

    4. Chick-Fil-A does not discriminate in their employment practices.

    5. Chick-Fil-A has a lot of people who are happy to be their customer on a regular basis because of their long time stance on family values.

    Since they publicly make their values known in every community for which they have a store, people who eat there learned nothing new when Dan Cathy spoke up recently… as it has been said before again and again.

    Thank you.

    • Peter,

      Your points are well received, however, the point of this post was not to argue the legitimacy of what he said nor did it have a religious agenda. If you’ll reference my third paragraph you can see where I said and I quote, “Now we’re not here to argue about gay marriage, what Dan Cathy said, or anything else related – its important to focus on the importance of what to do when you or your company falls into a social media nightmare.” From a business perspective, it is important to see the larger picture and understand how social media has played a part in the reaction of some members of society.

      Regards

      • Keil, for followers of Jesus, this is not a religious issue, but one of faith.

        I do agree with you that what we communicate has impact.

        If anyone calls a rallying of conservatives and followers of Jesus behind Dan Cathy and Chick-Fil-A to say thank you to them, and increase our business to them a nightmare, I wonder what the opposite would be in this case.

        While I understand that not everyone who eats at Chick-Fil-A calls Jesus their Savior, and that not all franchise owners follow Jesus as such, whenever I travel, and see Chick-Fil-A about, I also see advertising to their Christian family values.

        That tells me that a good number of people who eat at Chick-Fil-A already know the company is owned by people who call themselves Christian.

        While anyone can call themselves Christian and act completely differently or otherwise out of line with Bible-based teachings, it is good when you have a company like Chick-Fil-A and Dan Cathy showing courage to stand up and speak for what they believe.

        Compare Dan Cathy who has shared his views over time on family values — his views did not evolve along with Dan Cathy’s actions and you will find a genuine man (who like the rest of us does make mistakes; I’m not trying to put him on a pedestal. I am admiring hm being transparent — actions and words matching up) to President Obama whose actions already showed his support for homosexuals from early on. President Obama’s views did not evolve; his mouth just had to catch up with his actions.

        Whom would you trust more? The person who says what they mean and lives it or the person whose actions rarely line up with what they communicate?

        In any event, I do believe Dan Cathy’s statements helped Chick-Fil-A.

        Thank you.

        • DC1 says:

          I personally don’t care what a company’s politics or beliefs are unless they’re burning crosses on lawns. Jesus paid the price for the sins of mankind. It’s a new covenant. We are not to remove splinters from the eyes of others when we’re to remove the log from our own. God blesses all, regardless of ‘abomination’ (see Abraham, blessed despite marrying his half-sister). So, you can make this a religious crusade when in fact it’s, to the consumer and marketplace, an exploration of how to best withstand a social media flurry. Your comments are your own but you certainly cannot posit that your beliefs are definitive Christian belief. The Bible tells you that God is not a respecter of persons but of faith in Him. Best to you.

  2. Keil, thank you for your article. This is indeed a hot button topic for folks on both sides of the argument. With respect though, your suggestion that the solution is honesty alone seems to not fully address the issue at hand. Clearly, it is honesty that started the flood of criticism/support. I’m thinking, as you suggest, Chick-fil-a needs to remain honest, but I would think they may want to do a bit more than just restate their position. Surely they could amplify the many, not so controversial, positive things about their brand and social impact in the face of this wave of criticism.

  3. Dean George says:

    Keil, thanks for the post. I’m confident that Chick-fil-a will not waste time fighting fire with fire because that’s not their way. (Their opponents would surely disagree as they view dissenting opinions as ‘hate speech’ but that’s not the point of your article or my comments.)

    Honesty and heartfelt candor may be the best policy but it’s never guaranteed to be the most popular. As Stephen correctly noted, in this instance it’s also what brought these chickens home to roost.

    Honesty and candor is rarely appreciated by those that disagree with a stated opinion, no matter how sincerely it is held. But I think Chick-fil-a can effectively use social media to counter the sticks and stones being hurled their way by being consistent, polite, respectful to those who disagree and true to their founding family’s personal and religious beliefs guaranteed them by the Constitution.

    Those that have trouble with that can pin it, tweet it, like it, link it or stick it.

    • Yvonne says:

      I agree Dean. So glad Chick-fil-a did not waste time fighting fire with fire. They’ve remained polite, respectful and consistent in the face of fire.

      Its a sad day when lives are threatened and businesses are compromised for standing up for their beliefs. Very sad day!

      I think the organization GLAAD is extremely SAD. The preach tolerance yet they seem to be extremely intolerant of those that share a different view.

  4. court says:

    What you missed…skipped intentionally (?)…is that everything Dan Cathy said was exactly the same thing Barry Obama (the guy embarrassing our White House) said until May of this year. Where were all these people when he made the same statements ? Oh yeah, they were blindly standing in line to vote for him again.

    Something else you miss-stated is that Chick-fil-a is a SOUTHERN food chain – they are nationwide, just headquartered in Atlanta.

    The biggest problem in this whole mess is the politicians who made threats of reprisal against Dan Cathy and Chick-fil-a over his statements. It is not their job to threaten a business because of an opinion. These mayors need to get a grip on what their jobs are…and pandering to groups like this is not what they are supposed to be doing…then again, this is an election year.

    I noticed the Boston mayor backpeddling as fast as he could when he saw the tide of support for Chick-fil-a and Cathy rising. Hopefully, the people of Boston will remember his behavior and run him out of office.

    If you don’t agree with Dan Cathy – don’t eat at Chick-fil-a – you were never required to eat there in the first place.

    HOWEVER ! If you want to eat there, be glad that our government hasn’t yet gotten so far out of control that they can use force to tell us where we can and cannot eat.

    I also hope people notice that these “lions” of government stand up and pound their chests when facing and issue with a group they don’t see firing back. Where is this “courage” when facing issues of economics, crime, terrorism, un-Constitutional behavior, etc etc etc ?

  5. David says:

    I think issues like this come down to what your goals are in business. If one of your goals, or even your primary goal, is to spread the gospel, then fine. Clearly, that isn’t going to go over very well with everyone. However, it’s totally within Chick-Fil-A’s right to create whatever public image they wish to create. Maybe they’ll get enough new business from those who agree with their politics to offset the business they’ll lose from those who disagree. Eventually, this will all fade away, and even those who dislike what Mr. Cathy said, will buy his chicken again.

    My personal opinion is that I don’t want to know anything about the people who own the business. Sometimes I make consumer decisions based on political matters. Sometimes I am compelled to discontinue being a customer of something I like. Thus, I’d rather not know what the owners of Best Buy, Chick-Fil-A, or any other establishment believe about any issues unrelated to their products.

    I recommend that everyone keep their opinions and belief to themselves, particularly if they are business owners. Otherwise, simply be prepared to be judged not only on the quality of your products (something you can largely control), but also on what people think of your personal beliefs.

  6. What I find fascinating is the power of social media and the ability to stir up press about your company and/or a cause.

    Kimbery

  7. Erin says:

    “it’s sad when lives are threatened?”

    Chik-Fil-A financially supports organizations who think gay people should be killed or grown in jail!!!!!

    Whose lives are being threatened here?

  8. I don’t get the big deal and I love chick-fil-a and ate there on Vacation in TN. He has the same right as every single American in our country FREE SPEECH. The problem is that those who don’t ‘agree’ with you are trying very hard to strip people of their rights. That makes me angry. How to I like the Court comment- spot on –

    We are not a communist country we can say whatever we want! No matter how hard they try to stop that from happening.

  9. Jay Baron says:

    When you look at what has happened to Chick-Fil-A with this I don’t think it has hurt them at all. I think it has had the reverse effect on them, and the groups that started to protest Chick-Fil-A have now noticed a big back lash and I think they want it just to go away. http://www.weeklystandard.com/blogs/chick-fil-set-world-record_649217.html

    Good post otherwise and way to create a blog post that was built on current trends. Although too political for my tastes based on the comments already.

  10. Anna Thomas says:

    People across the country flocked to Chick-fil-A today, not because of the fast-food chain’s chicken sandwiches, but because of its CEO’s vocal support of traditional marriage.

  11. When the whole brouhaha broke out, my first thought was that Chick-fil-a, or any business for that matter, can do better to avoid controversies like this. People have rallied behind them boosting sales here and there but they probably lost a good portion of the market particularly among fence-sitters who decided to join the boycott bandwagon. Short of an apology, I think they’ve handled it pretty well starting with the statement from that company executive who passed away. By not adding fuel to the controversy with follow up incendiary statements, the whole things will fade away as the media serves the next hot dish for the forgetful public to consume.

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