A sharing corner of knowledge, thoughts on things, and literally everything else. My special interests are marketing, PR, branding, digital marketing, hospitality
In the last few days, while there are a few of situations that concerned us all such as the online article about how VinaGames is acquired by the Chinese investors with all theassociated political risks, or the danger of made-in-China WeChat app in Vietnam (which I will touch on this subject in another article), there has been a heated debate shimmering half-way around the world in America. I want to talk about the brand crisis of Chick-Fil-A fast-food chain while they explicitly turned down the notion of same-sex marriage, making them a nemesis to GLBT community.
Some background information:
About Chick-Fil-A development history:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chick-fil-A
In short, Chick-Fil-A is an American fast-food restaurant chain with their headquarter in Atlanta, Georgia, US. They are famous for their chicken entrée and sandwich, and considered more healthy than McDonald’s. They are very popular in US and a darling for the American population.
Why am I so excited about this brand ? We have a long relationship dated back to my time spent in Atlanta. I was a management trainee at Hyatt Regency Atlanta back then, and next door is a mall with the Chick-Fil-A store in it. It is my first time to know this brand, and start loving it since then. I still remember they sold a book written by their founder about their history and business philosophy (exactly like Starbucks with their founder’s inspiring books), I used to buy a copy and admired their way of doing business. It embraces a lot of Christian values and incorporates a lot ethics in it. They were known for being one of the most ethical companies in US.
However, their pro-Christian stance sparked another issue: their strong opposition to same-sex marriage and GLBT community. They have always disapproved the notion and openly displayed their thoughts in public appearance. God forbids, how this angered the GLBT community in America.
An overview of the brand crisis can be found from this link:http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/30/chick-fil-a-brand-approval-rating-anti-gay-controversy_n_1719359.html?ncid=edlinkusaolp00000009
Just a small reminder, I did not do a lot of research on this topic, so somewhere along the way, I may make mistakes in some details; and this serves as a jot-down of my thoughts from a marketing professional’s perspective.
As we all know, the GLBT community is very strong in America, with many representatives in high-profile posts in media and advertising industry. Therefore, the accident has caused one of the worst PR crises for the fast-food brand in their development history, plummeting the brand preference and credibility in the public’s eyes. Amid the situation, the company’s PR head died (article here:http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/27/chick-fil-a-executive-donald-perry-death-reactions_n_1711724.html), which made the situation even more interesting.
The news spread like wildfire, fuelled by GLBT anger towards the brand. People started making mocking video and comments about the brand, celebrities spoke out their thought on the situation, some support, some disgust. Chick-Fil-A is embroiled in the PR crisis, and they seem to take no action towards a workable crisis management plan to fix it. It is saddening to see such a brand heritage vanished at that staggering rate.
This now not only involves the fast-food giant but also sparks the debate about corporations’ stance on the sensitive topic. Are they pro- or against- this specific group of customers ?
We have seen in history how an executive (in this case, Dan Cathy, the founder and President of Chick-Fil-A)’s personal saying can damage the company brand as well as shareholders’ benefits, and I believe we will continue to see such things happening.
I hope that we can take some pages of lesson from this case study. It might take years for the brand to recover. Imagine Steve Jobs degrades the African-American or GLBT community ? It might not be a very good news for Apple, the loving brand around the world.
On a side note, I picked up an interesting story in international media today, Vietnam is making headline as the government might consider legalizing same-sex marriage:http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/29/vietnam-same-sex-marriage_n_1715915.html?ref=topbar . This might be one of the actions to rebuild the country image after a series of dismays recently.
I believe that everybody deserve to live their lives the way they want it, whether they are straight or gay.