This issue is the proverbial dead horse.
Every PR and social media wonk in America is chiming in on the issue. If you don’t know the issue by now, don’t bother reading this post because I am not going to rehash it. I’ve almost had my fill, or in this case, fil-a.
I’ve been involved (mostly) in some really good, intelligent, non-emotional conversations about the flap online. Mostly with public relations and social business pros from around the country. Many liberal, many conservative; some gay and some straight. Some religious and some agnostic.
The one thing I have been repeating and reminding everyone who is jumping onto the “this makes a great case study” bandwagon is this: Chick-fil-A, whether you agree with them or not, is sticking to its corporate values which have not changed since the founding of the company. Why would anyone be surprised. The righteous indignation from folks on both sides of the argument are so hollow I’m pretty sure their intellectual dishonesty will set back debate yet again in this country. This is a tailor-made activist driven crisis. Brands should take notice not for the steps the company did or did not take, but instead should understand that at anytime, activist groups can hijack your brand and do some damage no matter what the issue is.
It’s also ironic that folks like us (PR and social business pros) preach to corporate executives to be honest, open, and transparent. Hell, we even tell them to make sure they’re being themselves. Then, when they are, if it’s politically incorrect, or doesn’t skew a certain way, we crucify them. Are we jackals or professionals? Let’s walk the talk ladies and gentlemen.
This post isn’t to defend or rebut the gay marriage argument. I’m not entering that fray because I tend (in recent years) to keep my own views to myself. There’s something to be said for just shutting your mouth once in a while. If you know me, you know I have strong beliefs but I’ve grown and learned from sometimes opening my mouth too much. I have no desire to “convince” the populace to agree with me.
I support anyone who decides they don’t want to spend money with brands who support (or don’t support) causes important to them. We live in a free market society – you can spend your money wherever you want with whomever you want. So those who are upset at Chick-fil-a over this, don’t go there. That’s fine. But that sort of “I’ll only spend my money with brands/businesses that support my causes and political views” is a very, very slippery slope. If you’re going to be that values driven with your commerce, you better start doing hours of research over where the companies you do business with spend their energy, money. I have seen lots of folks say they won’t go to these restaurants anymore because of this one issue. But I’d be interested to see if they are as upset and stop frequenting other businesses who support that point of view.
As I said in some Twitter and Facebook posts: if you only do business with those who have your same world view or belief set, you might find yourself unable to shop or dine anywhere.
The issue of free speech is also front and center here. Some who support gay marriage argue this amounts to “hate” speech or homophobia. Those on the other side say this is an attack on free speech. After all, the Reverend Wrights of the world, Rush Limbaugh, Louis Farakhan, Michael Moore – they all say things 50% or more of the poplulation thinks is ludicrous, insulting and inflammatory. Yet not all are treated with the focus and vitriol we’re seeing in this case.
I don’t know about you, but even the people who say things I find disgusting I feel compelled to defend. Freedom of speech in this country (from many fringe factions) has been under attack for decades in this country. This is another example of it, I am afraid.
I’m just sick of the intellectually dishonesty and grandstanding being done by both sides in this case. Stop trying to convince everyone you’re right and wrong and just live your life how you see fit. Let Dan Cathy believes what he wants. If it hurts his business – which I doubt – then he’ll have to deal with that. But it’s his business to run the way he wants.
Even if you don’t agree on his stance.