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Chick-fil-A feels the controversy — and the love

Customers wait in line at a Chick-fil-A restaurant on August 1, 2012 in Fort Worth, Texas.
Customers wait in line at a Chick-fil-A restaurant on August 1, 2012 in Fort Worth, Texas.
Tom Pennington/Getty Images

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Chick-fil-A president Dan Cathy set off a firestorm when he publicly aired his anti-same-sex marriage views. The company has since attempted to distance itself from Cathy’s comments, issuing a statement saying they would “leave the policy debate over same-sex marriage to the government and political arena.”

But the damage has been done — or has it?

When gay rights supporters clamored for a proposed boycott, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee responded by declaring Wednesday, August 1st “Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day.” He did the company a huge favor: customers swarmed the fast-food outlets throughout the country, making it a record day for sales for the chain.

But wait, there’s more. Mayors of several cities with large LGBT populations have spoken out against having Chick-fil-A in their cities; Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel said the company’s values “are not Chicago values. They disrespect our fellow neighbors and residents.” Meanwhile, same-sex couples are encouraged by the LGBT community to swarm their local Chick-fil-A and commit a Public Display of Affection on Friday, designated "National Same-Sex Kiss Day at Chick-fil-A.”

Does the controversy help or hurt the chain? Should corporations stay out of public policy debate? Or are they right to air their values and count on the support of the portion of consumers who share them?


Ira Kalb, Assistant professor of Clinical Marketing, USC Marshall School of Business; Expert in branding, image creation, marketing and corporation communications

Bill Peacock, Vice President of research & planning and the director of the Center for Economic Freedom at the Texas Public Policy Foundation

Larry Chavis, Assistant Professor of Strategy and Entrepreneurship, University of North Carolina