USA Today Surprised Chick-Fil-A Didn’t Suffer from ‘PR Nightmare’

October 25th, 2012 2:12 PM

According to the PR “experts” in USA Today's rolodex, it’s downright unnatural that Chick-fil-A is a successful and thriving business. Who knew that so many people supported traditional marriage?

In a piece headlined “Surprise: PR nightmare didn’t damage Chick-fil-A,” Bruce Horovitz was shocked that the popular chicken chain’s markets share and awareness increased after President Dan Cathy told a religious publication his company was “guilty as charged” in supporting the biblical definition of marriage.

The “inflammatory” remark sparked immediate outrage and hate from the left. MSNBC host Thomas Roberts declared any supporter of Chick-fil-A was a “chicken-eating Judas.” Other networks whipped up bigotry labels and Chicago mayor Rahm Emmanuel audaciously declared war against the chain, claiming he would never allow Chick-fil-A in Chicago.

But liberals weren’t prepared for the thousands of people who showed up to support Chick-fil-A on “Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day.” How could they, when the left thinks all people should hold liberal ideals and not form their own opinon.

USA Today included comments from stunned PR experts who didn’t expect the chain to survive. “‘Chick-fil-A did everything wrong by the book,’ said Chris Goddard president of CGPR. ‘Their president shot from the hip, and his PR team was not equipped or prepared to respond. It was a PR disaster.’”

Horovitz quoted another marketing honcho, who suggested some companies can get away with taking a stand. “‘Brands that take risks can win big rewards, but they must be prepared for the backlash that comes with it,’ says Ronn Torossian, CEO at 5WPR. ‘They were saying to their core constituency: Here's what we believe.”

Or maybe, just maybe, Cathy’s position wasn’t nearly as controversial as the media made it out to be. Or maybe, just maybe, a lot of people don’t feel the need to politicize a convenient, tasty meal. 

USA Today couldn’t resist getting in one last shot at Chick-fil-A. “In a social media world any PR can be good PR,” Horovitz said lamely. Indeed, since Chick-fil-A has broadened its regular customer base in 28 of 35 social media markets.

Looks like “hate chicken” (as Washington, D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray dubbed it) will continue to thrive.