Controversy Makes Chick-fil-A One Of The Fastest Growing Brands On Facebook

    August 6, 2012
    Chris Crum

I probably don’t have to tell you that Chick-fil-A is at the center of a great deal of controversy these days, concerning its open views on gay marriage. These views have led to a seemingly endless debate among Chick-fil-A supporters, opponents, and those who just want to eat some chicken and go on about their business.

One thing is for certain. The whole thing has given the restaurant chain a whole lot of press, and over the past month, the company’s social brand has been on the rise.

Was stating its views on the matter of same-sex marriage a smart decision on Chick-fil-A’s part? Tell us what you think.

Social media ad platform Optimal has released a list of the top performing brands on its Optimal Index for July. As a spokesperson for the firm explains, “The Optimal Index is an independent valuation tool to help determine the relative value of a brand’s current audience on Facebook by combining fan counts, engagement statistics and global fan valuation.”

“Interestingly, amid recent controversial comments made by members of its executive team, Chick-fil-A added 524,238 new fans in July, and more than 550,000 people discussed, liked or commented on the brand in the past week,” the spokesperson said.

Here’s the list. As you can see, Chick-fil-A cracked the top ten:

Chick-Fil-A cracks top ten in social brand growth

Chick-fil-A’s Facebook page currently has over 6 million fans. That’s about a tenth of what rapper Marshall Mathers (the most popular guy on Facebook) has.

These graphs from PageData tell the story pretty well.

PageData stats on Chick-fil-A

The comments from Chick-fil-A took place in the mid-July, and you can see how the Page’s popularity has steadily risen since then, as the discussion continues around the web. Imagine what the monthly numbers would look like if the controversy began at the beginning of the month.

Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy was quoted as saying that he and the company as a whole are “very much supportive of the family — the biblical definition of the family unit. We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives.”

The company later issued the following statement via its Facebook Page:

The Chick-fil-A culture and service tradition in our restaurants is to treat every person with honor, dignity and respect – regardless of their belief, race, creed, sexual orientation or gender. We will continue this tradition in the over 1,600 Restaurants run by independent Owner/Operators. Going forward, our intent is to leave the policy debate over same-sex marriage to the government and political arena.

Chick-fil-A is a family-owned and family-led company serving the communities in which it operates. From the day Truett Cathy started the company, he began applying biblically-based principles to managing his business. For example, we believe that closing on Sundays, operating debt-free and devoting a percentage of our profits back to our communities are what make us a stronger company and Chick-fil-A family.

Our mission is simple: to serve great food, provide genuine hospitality and have a positive influence on all who come in contact with Chick-fil-A.

Wednesday became known as Chick-fil-A appreciation day, which turned out to be a pretty big hit for the company, with the company claiming a record-setting day. Millions of people turned out to support the restaurant chain, and their beliefs.

Of course, the controversy also led to National Same-Sex Kiss Day At Chick-fil-A on Friday, which in addition to the turn out for beliefs on the opposite side of the equation, has still served to draw more attention to the brand.

There’s no question that Chick-fil-A has alienated a large amount of customers, but even still, the company appears to have put together a pretty loyal audience, and thousands of people (and climbing) they can push their messages (and offers) to on a daily basis, through Facebook alone, not to mention the additional brand awareness the company has managed to spread.

Some analysts have advised against businesses publicizing any political views, as to avoid alienating customers. It’s hard to say what kind of long-term effects this whole thing will have on Chick-fil-A’s brand, and how much it will ultimately affect the company’s bottom line. In the short-term, however, no matter how many people it has turned against it, the whole thing has clearly gotten people more interested in Chick-fil-A, and they’re selling a whole lot of Chicken. From my understanding, that’s their main goal.

Do you think businesses should publicize controversial views and risk alienating customers? Was Chick-fil-A smart to do so? Has the whole thing affected whether or not you will eat at the restaurant? Let us know in the comments.


Chris Crum
Chris Crum has been a part of the WebProNews team and the iEntry Network of B2B Publications since 2003. Follow Chris on Twitter, on StumbleUpon, on Pinterest and/or on Google: +Chris Crum.