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LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 15:  Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally aboard the USS Iowa on September 15, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. Donald Trump is campaigning in Los Angeles a day ahead of the CNN GOP debate that will be broadcast from the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley.  (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)  Getty Images
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LLANDUDNO, WALES - SEPTEMBER 08:  Senior citizens walk along Llandudno Pier on September 8, 2014 in Llandudno, Wales. Britain is facing multiple problems stemming from an increase in the elderly proportion of its population, including increasing health care costs, strains on its social security system, a shortage of senior care workers and challenges to the employment market.  (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)  Getty Images

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Burger King to make its biggest menu change yet  Getty Images


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Pay Dirt
A daily look at what we buy, how we spend, and the companies that do right - and wrong - by their customers.

Chick-fil-A’s Gay Marriage Stance: Good Branding?

Chick-fil-A has taken a lot of heat in recent weeks for its opposition to gay marriage. But when the current controversy finally cools, experts say, the brand may do better than ever.

Alex Wong / Getty Images
A Chick-fil-A in Springfield, Virginia.

The fast-food chain’s president and COO, Dan Cathy, made several public comments in recent weeks reiterating his opposition to same-sex marriage—those who support it, he said in one interview, were “inviting God’s judgment.” Since then, the Jim Henson Co. and Chick-fil-A ended a licensing agreement for a children’s “puppet meal.” The company’s contributions to groups that oppose gay marriage have gotten more public exposure, and political backlash has followed. The public is weighing in too, of course. On Wednesday, a group of activists is organizing a “National Marriage Equality Day” at Starbucks, a company that supports gay marriage. And last week, thousands of people stood in line for “Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day,” an event kick-started by Mike Huckabee, the radio and TV host and former Republican presidential candidate.

The impact on Chick-fil-A has been mixed. The privately held company said it saw “record-setting” sales after the appreciation day last week, but opinion of its brand nationwide has tumbled, according to a survey by YouGov’s BrandIndex, a measure of brand perception among the public. Chick-fil-A’s brand rating has declined to 28 from 65 on YouGov’s index, far below the average score of 43 for other fast-food chains.

Still, the company has no shortage of outlets in typically conservative states where its stance resonates. The majority of its 1,600 franchises are located in the Midwest and South. Chick-fil-A’s BrandIndex rating in the Midwest temporarily spiked to 70 after one round of public comments by Cathy, though it has fallen since then.

Chick-fil-A declined to comment for this article, directing Pay Dirt to a statement on the company’s website saying it has always operated on “biblically-based principles.” But two branding industry pros — Martin Lindstrom, author of “Brandwashed,” and consultant Rob Frankel — say the company may have ultimately strengthened itself by remaining true to its core base. We asked them where the company should go from here.

Pay Dirt: Do you think Dan Cathy knew what he was doing when he made that statement the first time?

Martin Lindstrom: It seemed like an off-the-cuff comment.

Rob Frankel: I’ll bet next week’s paycheck that it was not deliberate. There are few if any brands that possess the strategic intellectual or creative capacity for plotting something like this. This is like a contained nuclear explosion. You’ve really got to know what you’re doing.

How will this impact the company?

Lindstrom: There are a lot of people who had never even heard of Chick-fil-A before. With the help of social media, millions more people in the U.S. and around the world know about the brand. All those people showing up in favor of the fast-food chain last week is a sign of that.

Frankel: The brand of Chick-fil-A will benefit tremendously from this. In most cases, the actions of the CEO have very little to do with the overall performance of the brand. I predict it will actually increase its revenue and growth in one to two years.

Why do you think this controversy is a good thing?

Lindstrom: It creates a sense of belonging for consumers. Supporting a brand defines who you are and who you are not. That’s why people turned up in the thousands to buy [sandwiches] at Chick-fil-A. What has that got to do with sexual relationships and marriage? Not a lot. But it’s a way for people to show their opinion and be part of a community.

Frankel: More people have now heard about Chick-fil-A. They won’t necessarily go hunting for a Chick-fil-A sandwich, but when there are four fast-food chains to choose from, they will be curious about their sandwiches. Are they as crunchy as the chicken you get at KFC? Some people will want to find out.

Cathy’s statement upset a lot of people who regard same-sex marriage as a civil right.

Lindstrom: With a civil rights issue, the brand risks getting left behind, so normally I would say this was a stupid thing to do. But there is some logic from a branding point of view. An estimated 44% of people still oppose gay marriage; that’s a huge target group.

Frankel: This isn’t close to a civil rights issue. It’s a hot topic for the presidential elections. This is way more about freedom of speech than gay marriage.

What should Chick-fil-A do now?

Lindstrom: Brands should stand up for what they believe. Consumers don’t respond to bland branding. There’s too much of that perfect stuff out there. If they do it right, the company will attract more conservative customers and others who don’t care one way or the other.

Frankel: They should stick to their knitting. In this case: selling chicken.

J.C. Penney shows same-sex couples in its catalogs. Microsoft, Amazon, Nike and Starbucks have all come out in favor of gay marriage in an upcoming referendum in Washington state. Bud Light, Coca-Cola and Johnson & Johnson are among the companies that have sponsored gay pride parades. Are brands becoming more politicized?

Lindstrom: In the future, we’ll see two types of brands: Those appealing to the general masses, and those that aim to raise awareness on certain issues. People will either love or hate them. Some brands have done that successfully. Ben and Jerry’s and The Body Shop were very opinionated and politically left wing. Both were bought out by multinationals.

Frankel: The activists and media like to think that people care. But you will barely see the needle move in the short- or long-term. Anita Bryant, known for her strong views against homosexuality, was a spokeswoman for the Florida Citrus Commission. Her contract lapsed in 1979 and most people did not stop drinking Florida orange juice.

What is your position on Dan Cathy’s comments?

Lindstrom: Same-sex marriage is perfectly fine. This has been allowed for 15 years in my native Denmark. The U.S. is 15 years behind.

Frankel: I don’t like to get tagged on a particular issue like this. But I am as strong an advocate for personal freedom as you’ll ever find.

You’re hungry, you’re at a crossroads, there’s a Chick-fil-A on one corner and a KFC on the other. Which way do you turn?

Lindstrom: I’m curious enough to go into the Chick-fil-A to see how the staff is handling it because I’m a branding guy, but unfortunately I’m not going to buy anything in there.

Frankel: I think I’d let my taste buds decide. Ultimately, that’s what most customers will do.

Comments

We welcome thoughtful comments from readers. Please comply with our guidelines. Our blogs do not require the use of your real name.

Comments (5 of 43)

View all Comments »
    • time will tell if there are enough supporters or detractors… i sincerely hope everyone votes with their pocket book and chooses not to support them. i for one will never eat there again… i can only hope others will join me. the idea of the profits going to organizations that support discrimination is unacceptable.

    • chick fil a is not gay yay!

    • Who is really backwards and old fashioned? The truth is, sodomy is much much much older than Christianity, and even Judaism whether you start counting from Moses or from Abraham. Judaism and then Christianity is the NEW WAY! The superior way that leads to life and peace. Sodomy is a celebration of death and infertility: the symbolism of a man’s organ of life ejaculating into a poop chute is all you need to understand.

    • Over 1600 Chick-fil-A franchise owners received an amazing GIFT, a proof Dan Cathy’s hatred is killing THEIR business. Franchise owners work 60-80 hours/week standing in pools of melted lard ruining their knock off brand sneakers, just to make a living. Dan Cathy is worth 4.5 BILLION. It’s like Christmas morning for these owners dividing 4.5 BILLION into 1600 pieces.
      Can you say CLASS ACTION LAWSUIT?

    • Dan Cathy was CAUGHT on Twitter cheering he had LIT UP Facebook with angered gays.
      THIS was HIS HATE STUNT.
      OK, now you’ve angered gays….deal with it.

About Pay Dirt

  • Pay Dirt examines the millions of consumer decisions Americans make every day: What to buy, how much to pay, whether to rave or complain. Lead written by Quentin Fottrell, the blog examines these interactions, providing readers with news, insight and tips on shopping, spending, customer service, and companies that do right – and wrong – by their customers. Send items, questions and comments to quentin.fottrell@dowjones.com or tweet @SMPayDirt.

MarketWatch - Stock Market Quotes, Business News, Financial News
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Greenpan on housing bubble ranked by Howard Gold among the epid bad investment calls.
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The 10 biggest online dating photo mistakes
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What ‘affordable’ Tesla Model 3 means for buyers
What the ‘affordable’ Tesla Model 3 rollout means for car buyers Getty Images
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Challenging job: President Trump’s top diplomat
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 15:  Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally aboard the USS Iowa on September 15, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. Donald Trump is campaigning in Los Angeles a day ahead of the CNN GOP debate that will be broadcast from the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley.  (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)  Getty Images
Voters don’t care about promises — just vision

How did Kissinger get into Clinton-Sanders debate?
Former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger listens to a question at China Development Forum, in Beijing March 21, 2015. REUTERS/Jason Lee  Reuters
Clinton, Sanders clash over costs at debate

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LLANDUDNO, WALES - SEPTEMBER 08:  Senior citizens walk along Llandudno Pier on September 8, 2014 in Llandudno, Wales. Britain is facing multiple problems stemming from an increase in the elderly proportion of its population, including increasing health care costs, strains on its social security system, a shortage of senior care workers and challenges to the employment market.  (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)  Getty Images

Burger King’s hot dog plan is so crazy it could work
Burger King to make its biggest menu change yet  Getty Images


need to know
BAE poised to name Charles Woodburn as COO
Kohl's tells 3 top execs their positions are cut
Pope Francis in Cuba for historic meeting
Uber to pay $28.5 million in safety claim case
Shake Shack plans to open in St. Louis
Zika vaccine is at least a year and a half away
10 big stories you’ve missed this week

It’s a ‘new Cold War,’ warns Russian premier

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23 ‘loser’ stocks thrown out with the bathwater

What bear market? Stocks look likely to rise

5 signs we might already be in a bear market
Looks like time for bottom fishing in stocks

‘Year of Monkey’ puts China stocks in focus

Funny #Fed Valentines — best of  this year’s quips

Bank of America chief gets a 23% pay raise
Intel lured Qualcomm exec with $25 mln pay
CEO Jamie Dimon’s $26 mln bet on J.P. Morgan

I want my disabled sister out of our family home

Google exec squirms when questioned about pay

Something pink and potable for Valentine’s Day?
Passy samples rosé cider
9 incredibly romantic wines

ECB may finally deal a deathblow to the €500 bill
Yen has crossed a ‘line in the sand’
Time for a coordinated response to the yuan?
Dollar to hit ¥95 by end of the year: Barclays

This can’t be why Apple made Beats deal with Dre

5 things to know about the Costco and AmEx breakup

How grocery business got ‘barbell’ shape

Grammys make Memphis candy shop a winner

Economists increasingly see Fed hands as tied
What central-bank failures mean for investors
Have central banks lost market credibility?

How I paid off my student loans early

College freshmen most liberal since Vietnam

Big banks are fleeing the mortgage market
Big banks are fleeing the mortgage market
Boomers are loading up on debt, not millennials

Taxpayers already paying for future Super Bowls

Beer’s incessant infighting clouds the big picture

How to buy a used car
The correct way to go about buying a used car

Don’t get smoked by your marijuana investment

Actually, the most popular new emoji isn’t the taco
/conga/frontpage.html 367898

Markets »

132.55MDow Volume:
Avg Vol: 132.70M
Unchanged
134
Decliners
1500
Advancers
4873
Price Chg %Chg 1 Day
Range: 1 Day
  • 1 Day
  • 5 Days
  • 1 Month
  • 3 Months
  • 6 Months
  • 1 Year
  • 2 Years
Dow
/quotes/zigman/627449/realtime 15,974 +314 2.00%
Nasdaq
/quotes/zigman/12633936/realtime 4,338 +71 1.66%
S&P 500
/quotes/zigman/3870025/realtime 1,865 +36 1.95%
GlobalDow
/quotes/zigman/629063/realtime 2,070 +23 1.11%
Gold
/quotes/zigman/33772884/delayed 1,239 -9 0.75%
Oil
/quotes/zigman/2260836/delayed 29.02 +2.81 10.72%
FTSE 100
/quotes/zigman/3173262/delayed 5,708 +171 3.08%
DAX
/quotes/zigman/2380246/delayed 8,968 +215 2.45%
CAC 40
/quotes/zigman/3173214/delayed 3,995 +98 2.52%
FTSE MIB
/quotes/zigman/1482176/delayed 16,515 +742 4.70%
IBEX 35
/quotes/zigman/2759620/delayed 7,921 +175 2.25%
Stoxx 600
/quotes/zigman/2380150/delayed 312 +9 2.91%
Asia Dow
/quotes/zigman/6959860/realtime 2,385 -51 2.10%
Nikkei 225
/quotes/zigman/5986735/delayed 14,953 -761 4.84%
Hang Seng
/quotes/zigman/2622475/delayed 18,320 -226 1.22%
Shanghai
/quotes/zigman/1859015/delayed 2,763 -18 0.63%
Sensex
/quotes/zigman/1652085/delayed 22,986 +34 0.15%
Singapore
/quotes/zigman/1709939/delayed 2,540 +2 0.07%
Euro
/quotes/zigman/16008136/realtime/sampled 1.13 -0.01 0.61%
Yen
/quotes/zigman/16008150/realtime/sampled 113.25 +0.83 0.74%
Pound
/quotes/zigman/16008140/realtime/sampled 1.45 +0.00 0.18%
Australia$
/quotes/zigman/16008115/realtime/sampled 0.71 0.00 0.04%
DXY Index
/quotes/zigman/1652083/delayed 95.97 +0.36 0.38%
WSJ $ Idx
/quotes/zigman/41508961/realtime 88.99 +0.23 0.26%
U.S. 10yr
/quotes/zigman/15866666/realtime 1.75 0.00 0.00%
German 10y
/quotes/zigman/15866409/realtime 0.26 +0.07 37.97%
Italy 10yr
/quotes/zigman/15866497/realtime 1.64 -0.08 4.67%
Spain 10yr
/quotes/zigman/15866444/realtime 1.74 -0.04 2.01%
U.K. 10yr
/quotes/zigman/15866328/realtime 1.42 0.00 0.00%
Japan 10yr
/quotes/zigman/15866525/realtime 0.08 0.00 0.00%
Crude Oil
/quotes/zigman/2260836/delayed 29 +3 10.72%
Gold
/quotes/zigman/33772884/delayed 1,239 -9 0.75%
Corn
/quotes/zigman/25518696/delayed 364 -1 0.27%
DJIA F
/quotes/zigman/48241424/delayed 15,925 +313 2.00%
S&P F
/quotes/zigman/43106711/delayed 1,860 +36 1.95%
Silver
/quotes/zigman/32655632/delayed 16 0 0.03%

Quotes

Symbol Price Change % Change
FB /quotes/zigman/9962609/composite 102.01 0.10 0.10%
AAPL /quotes/zigman/68270/composite 93.99 0.29 0.31%
GOOG /quotes/zigman/59527964/composite 682.40 -0.71 -0.10%
BAC /quotes/zigman/190927/composite 11.95 0.79 7.08%
C /quotes/zigman/5065548/composite 37.54 2.56 7.32%
F /quotes/zigman/264304/composite 11.55 0.38 3.40%
T /quotes/zigman/398198/composite 36.47 0.26 0.72%
BP /quotes/zigman/247026/composite 29.02 1.38 4.99%
GE /quotes/zigman/227468/composite 28.26 0.81 2.95%
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5 yr CD
1.3%
2 yr CD
0.7%
1 yr CD
0.6%
MMA $10K+
0.2%
MMA $50K+
0.4%

National averages from Bankrate.com

You Don’t Need Another Credit Card, You Need A Better One.
Avg. APR Last Week 6 Months
Low Interest 11.96% 11.96% 11.62%
Business 13.12% 13.12% 12.85%
Student 13.42% 13.42% 13.14%
Balance Transfer 14.35% 14.35% 14.12%
Airline 15.17% 15.17% 15.10%
Cash Back 15.20% 15.26% 15.27%
Reward 15.25% 15.28% 15.14%
Instant Approval 18.02% 18.21% 18.00%
Bad Credit 22.56% 22.88% 22.73%
Source:CreditCards.com

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  • /quotes/zigman/34886547/composite HQY+1.85%
  • /quotes/zigman/69765/composite CERN+1.76%
  • /quotes/zigman/331289/composite SNX+2.46%
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