Chick-fil-A, One Year Later
Posted in the Minneapolis Forum
#1 Dec 28, 2013
by Dan Gainor
Citizen Magazine (June/July 2013)
Last summer, gay activists tried to destroy the national chicken chain. They wound up helping instead.
Victory tastes like chicken. Despite a year filled with protests and a smorgasbord of media scrutiny, recent evidence shows Chick-fil-A didn’t just survive becoming the target of a boycott led by gay activists last summer. It’s flourishing.
The popular fast-food chicken restaurant found itself in the crosshairs of media attention and activist protests after CEO Dan Cathy said in interviews with Christian media that he supports “the biblical definition of the family unit.”
Liberal groups had protested Chick-fil-A’s charitable contributions before, especially unhappy that the firm’s WinShape Foundation had donated money to groups like the Marriage & Family Foundation and Fellowship of Christian Athletes. After Cathy’s comments ricocheted around the Internet, pro-gay organizations targeted the company. That, in turn, spurred hundreds of thousands to support a “Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day” led by former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee on Aug. 1.
The results speak for themselves: The restaurant chain grew both in profits and locations last year. While the 500 largest U.S. restaurant chains showed sales growth of 4.9 percent, Chick-fil- A nearly tripled that result with 14.1 percent, according to Technomic Inc., a Chicago-based consulting and research firm serving the food industry.
“The fast food giant, the nation’s second-largest chicken chain, ended 2012 with $4.6 billion in sales,” reported the Atlanta Journal- Constitution.“The company also opened 96 new stores, four more than the year before.”
And its reputation actually improved—a lot. It made the annual Harris Poll Reputation Quotation for the first time in February, landing at 33 on the list of the top 60 “Most Visible Companies,” just three slots behind ever-popular Mc- Donald’s and two ahead of Burger King. The numbers caught the media off guard. USA Today headlined one piece:“Surprise: PR nightmare didn’t damage Chick-fil-A.”
PR News, an industry trade publication, summed up the year nicely.“Ultimately, the media circus surrounding the CEO’s comments may have helped more than it hurt. By late 2012, Chick-fil-A was enjoying record profits and increased brand recognition.”
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