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Posts Tagged ‘Chick-fil-A’

Chick-Fil-A CEO Is So Over This Whole ‘Gay Marriage’ Thing

shutterstock_109249637In case you needed further evidence that anti-gay statements are no longer good business on the national level, Chick-Fil-A CEO Dan Cathy—the loudest of the corporate voices on the topic in years past—now says he’s done talking about it.

In an extended interview with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution last week, Cathy said he “regrets” turning his company into a corporate spokesperson on social policy:

“I’m thankful that I lived through it and I learned a lot from it.”

His personal feelings on the matter have not changed, but:

“The bottom line is we have a responsibility here to keep the whole of the organization in mind and it has to take precedence over the personal expression and opinion on social issues.

…it’s probably very wise from our standpoint to make sure that we present our brand in a compelling way that the consumer can relate to.”

He might just be onto something.

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5 Steps in a Successful Social Media Damage Control Campaign

Not too far ahead though.

This week, Barilla’s “foot in mouth” move got lots of people talking about the right way to conduct a damage control campaign on social media. Yesterday we connected with Solomon McCown & Company president/crisis comms expert Ashley McCown to get her thoughts on the case and the challenge of planning and directing successful campaigns.

What’s your take on Barilla’s damage control efforts?

I don’t think the chairman of Barilla really cares. He issued an apology, but he also made it quite clear in his initial statement that if people don’t like what he says, they don’t have to buy his pasta. It was a muddled response and a hollow message without much emotion behind it and it did not clarify the matter. An apology has to be genuine, and his was not believable.

Also: the company is based in Italy, but their apology was only released in Italian on Facebook and Twitter at first, and that was a mistake. The U.S. is a significant market share for them, but they didn’t bother translating it—someone else did.

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How to Help Your Brand Connect to LGBT Audiences

Now that the majority of Americans (if not the majority of American states) have accepted same-sex marriage and effectively welcomed the LGBT community into mainstream culture, brand strategists are brainstorming over how to make the most of a large and passionate demographic. Why? Well, gay men and women do “have the largest amount of disposable income of any niche market,” so…money.

That’s according to Community Marketing Inc., a gay-centric research organization that just released its 7th annual LGBT community survey of more than 30,000 consumers in 100 different countries. Their findings should help marketing/PR pros better understand the community.

The fact that LGBT individuals “keep up with online media” isn’t much of a revelation, but here are some more interesting conclusions:

  • “LGBT” is the preferred term for gays, bisexuals and transgender individuals, though gay men are equally receptive to the phrase “gay and lesbian”. Words like “queer”, “rainbow” and “gay-welcoming” are less effective (probably because they’re condescending).
  • Consumers prefer that corporate communications refer to their legal relationships with the terms “spouse” or “husband/wife”, though “partner” also works. Dated terms like “significant other” and “gay couple” don’t test so well.

Do Brands Win by Taking Stands on Social Issues?

As we scrolled through all those creative variations on the Human Rights Campaign‘s viral marriage equality avatar last week, we wondered: how often do brands benefit when taking specific stands on social issues? How often do such moves truly damage public perceptions? This isn’t a new debate, of course: last year everyone speculated about the effect that Chick-Fil-A’s official anti-gay status would have on its overall business. The answer in that case seems to have been “very little” — but what about other brands? Some choose to define themselves with bold stances, but most shy away.

Oh, and here’s Fab.com‘s version of the meme: Read more

Execs’ Anti-Obama Rants Hurt Restaurant Brands

Papa John's CEO Several men who work as managers and CEOs of chain restaurants don’t much care for President Obama’s signature health insurance law—and they haven’t been shy about letting everyone know it via their respective media megaphones.

Their outrage may have something to do with the fact that chain restaurants, despite employing millions of Americans, very often do not provide health insurance for their workers. While these men have every right to voice their outrage, a recent YouGov BrandIndex report implies that their opinions may be hurting their brands.

Examples from the past month:

  • An owner of several Applebee’s branches claimed that “…we won’t build more restaurants. We won’t hire more people” due to the additional costs of insuring employees via “Obamacare.”
  • A south Florida man who runs several Denny’s and Dairy Queen locations discussed his plans to add a 5% surcharge to all orders in order to cover the anticipated cost of the legislation, telling customers that “if they really feel so inclined, they can reduce the amount of tip they give to the server, who is the primary beneficiary of Obamacare.”
  • After reports led some to believe that Obamacare would force him to close stores, fire workers and raise prices, Papa John’s CEO (and major Mitt Romney fundraiser) John Schnatter recently took to The Huffington Post to clarify his statements on the matter, writing that everybody just needs to calm down because all of his restaurants plan to “honor the law.”

There’s little doubt that these statements paint the men who made them as jackasses, yet the YouGov brand report hints that the damage runs deeper: these execs’ anti-Obamacare rants have led the public to lose respect for their brands.

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Creating a ‘Breakout Brand’ Through PR Outreach

A recent survey commissioned by rbb Public Relations and performed by IBOPE/Zogby International received a bit of media attention over the past few weeks, and with good reason: its most significant revelation was the fact that “83% of consumers would pay more for a product/service from a company they feel puts them first.”

The survey concerned the phenomenon of “breakout brands” that achieve the enviable goal of customer loyalty and steady market share by dealing directly with their customers rather than playing a never-ending game of Battleship with their competitors. And its list of 2012’s “Top 10 Breakout Brands” ran the gamut from universally-beloved names like Apple and customer service leaders like Zappos to controversial brands like Chick-Fil-A.

What led rbb to commission this survey? While researching older marketing strategies, founder Christine Barney noticed that brands no longer followed the classic “challenger” approach typified by the Avis tagline “We’re only No. 2 in rent a cars. So why go with us? We try harder”. This Don Draper-style message may have worked in the 60’s, but it’s no longer relevant. So how have branding strategies evolved?

Barney lists three primary traits of the “breakout brand”:

  1. They lead by putting the customer first, not distinguishing themselves from rivals. Customers don’t care about brand fights.
  2. They use market research and knowledge of their customer base to anticipate their customers’ desire. Did the public realize they wanted tablets before the iPad arrived?
  3. They communicate in ways that go well beyond traditional customer service, developing “rich feedback loops” with their customers.

Can any brand break out? Theoretically, yes—“breakout” does not necessarily mean new. Barney also lists three distinct types of breakout brands:

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Election 2012: A Win for LGBT PR Firms?

Wherever you may stand on gay marriage and other issues facing the LBGT community, we think you’ll agree that this week’s election was a big win for the gay rights movement; the country at large appears to be moving toward a new era in LGBT relations. But do these results reflect a future in which the public will be more receptive to gay-themed PR campaigns?

Election 2012 included several significant gay rights gains: Tammy Baldwin became the first openly gay American Senator, California’s Mark Takano became the first openly gay person of color to serve in congress, Iowa voters chose to retain the judge who cast the deciding vote in approving gay marriage and, most importantly, voters in four states chose to either legalize gay marriage or reject constitutional amendments forbidding it.

It was a proud, hard-earned moment for millions of gay Americans–but how will it affect the LGBT PR industry and related campaigns?

Quite a few existing firms explicitly cater to gay audiences–and we’ve witnessed an increase in the use of obviously gay figures in advertising and PR campaigns. Here, for example, is a recent groundbreaking ad created by Brand USA to promote United States tourism to overseas audiences that features a gay couple:

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UPDATE: Chick-fil-A Still Very Much Anti-Gay Marriage

This week we all wondered whether to believe the stories about Chick-fil-A’s supposed decision to stop donating to anti-gay groups. If it sounded too good to be true, that’s because it was.

Turns out that, as reported by The Advocate, the poultry-parts chain can still support “pro family” groups ‘til the cows come home without violating the “agreement” it reached with Chicago alderman Proco “Joe” Moreno—as long as its charity doesn’t donate directly to these groups. It’s what we call a massive loophole.

For example, on Tuesday Chick-Fil-A President Dan Cathy tweeted a picture of himself taking part in the WinShape Ride for the Family. It’s an event designed to raise money for the Marriage and Family Foundation, an advocacy group founded by the Cathy family that lobbies against various marriage equality laws.

Did Cathy violate his company’s earlier “agreement” to stop donating to those groups?

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Did Chick-fil-A Have a Change of Heart on Gay Rights?

Chicago alderman “Joe” Moreno and an area gay rights group called the Civil Rights Agenda now claim that they have helped convince the Chick-fil-A chain to stop donating money to anti-gay organizations through its assorted charity groups.

Today Moreno said that he had recently concluded meetings with company executives that capped “10 months of negotiations with the company over concerns about fair and equal hiring and serving practices within the company.”

The restaurant has yet to release an official statement on the matter, but the story seems to fit with earlier narratives in which the company’s president held a private luncheon in Atlanta with activists and community leaders to discuss issues involving “diversity.”

According to the Moreno statement and the CRA release, Chick-fil-A will soon publish an “internal memo” titled “Chick-fil-A: Who We Are” that advises employees and managers to “treat everyone with honor” regardless of race, creed or sexual orientation. At any rate, Moreno, who led the “negotiations”, seems to have made his peace with the poultry chain after acting as one of its most visible opponents and attempting to block the restaurant from opening a branch in his neighborhood.

We want to believe this story, but until the company releases an official statement we can’t quite be sure.

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Update on Chick-fil-A Backlash: Same-Sex Kiss Day VS. Appreciation Day

As we previously reported, anti-gay marriage comments made by Chick-fil-A president Dan Cathy have polarized fast-food lovers everywhere. On Wednesday, Chick-fil-A supporters converged in droves upon its restaurant locations all over the nation for “Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day”, resulting in “record setting” sales, according to ABC News. But today, those on the other side of the argument plan to have their say.

“National Same-Sex Kiss Day at Chick-fil-A”, which takes place today in protest of Cathy’s comments, encourages same-sex couples to take a photo or video of themselves kissing at their local Chick-fil-A. It has yet to be seen how many will turn out for the kiss-in, but the Facebook event page, which has over 13,000 confirmed participants, states the following:

“In honor of their support for love, equality, and the real definition of family, we’re holding a NATIONAL Same Sex Kiss Day at Chick Fil A’s around the country. So grab a friend (or 20) and head out to your nearest Chick Fil A! And don’t forget to post photos/videos of it here! For all the world to see!

We would also like to clarify that this event was NOT created as a response to Mike Huckabee’s appreciation day, this event was created on July 19, several days before Mike Huckabee announced his plans for Wednesday August 1.”

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