Chick-fil-A Controversy Attracts Mixed Reactions

Chick-fil-A is in the middle of a controversy brought by its Chief Operating Officer Dan Cathy’s support of traditional marriage.  His stand goes with the restaurant’s Christian worldview.  Gay supporters took Chick-fil-A to task for Cathy’s remarks in The Biblical Recorder.  They advocated boycotting the chain, while several politicians rode on the issue by announcing their plans to block applications for new Chick-fil-A restaurant openings.  Customers supportive of Cathy’s comments showed up at the restaurant during the Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day on August 1st.  John Gordon from the Pacific Management Consulting Group told The Orange County Register that the restaurant experienced an unprecedented increase in sales during that day compared to average Wednesdays.  This is despite the absence of coupons, special discounts or promotional marketing by the restaurant.

Chick-fil-A Chief Operating Officer Dan Cathy’s recent reiteration of his long-time support of “the biblical definition of the family unit” in “The Biblical Recorder” caused a national controversy.

Gay marriage proponents called for boycotts and staged “kiss-ins” at restaurants. Several politicians announced plans to block Chick-fil-A’s applications to open new restaurants in their jurisdictions. And company supporters turned out in record numbers for a Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day Aug. 1.

By comparison, the impact on Chick-fil-A franchisees – the company calls them operators and the relationship is not traditional franchising – has been mild so far and may be positive.

The Torrance Chick-fil-A was hit by negative graffiti, and many opponents posted angry comments, articles and videos online. Brandindex, which tracks online perceptions of brands, said that as of Aug. 3, Chick-fil-A’s score has dropped 55 percent since the article quoting Dan Cathy was published.

However, privately held Chick-fil-A, which does not release financial data, said the Aug. 1 Appreciation Day “was a record-setting day” for sales.

John A. Gordon, principal at Pacific Management Consulting Group in San Diego, projects that the average Chick-fil-A had a 29.9 percent spike in sales to $10,320 and 367 more customers on Appreciation Day than on an average Wednesday.

He noted that when companies have a one-day promotion, it tends to take sales and traffic away from other days. But in Chick-fil-A’s case, the appreciation event was not created by the company’s marketing department. Supporters of the company and First Amendment free speech rights showed up and spent money without coupons or special discounts, although the long-term impact on franchisees’ business remains to be seen.

“CFA gained a lot of free publicity and energized its base customers, at least for now,” Gordon said. “It also did not discount (to attract business on Appreciation Day). It’s hard for other (quick service restaurants) to get that kind of daily pop without a discount or giveaway of some sort.” …

Photo by mayra_ramones

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