Oh this is exciting. Recent searches of Chick-fil-A on the internet prompted me to see what had changed with the situation, which was when I found out about their new Facebook scandal. (Check out Transition Marketing and the LA Times to see sites that beat me to it.)
Here’s the deal:
Reactions to the “homophobic” comments that Dan Cathy released last week have grown stronger than even I expected. (To see my original article go here.) Apparently multiple mayors and city council groups are denying Chick-fil-A the rights to open stores in certain areas, including Boston and Chicago.
Facebook users have been brutal as well, accusing the company of all kinds of things, including being homophobic and bigots. Interestingly enough, a profile by the name of Abby Farle has been defending Chick-fil-A to the negative commenters on Facebook. This profile was identified by another user as 8 hours old and using stock photography.
The company itself denies responsibility for the creation of Abby Farle, but comments like “Nice try, Chick-fil-A PR guy…” are going to reflect very badly on the company and the industry of public relations as a whole. (Dang it, Abby.)
Communicating with your public: good. Creating a fake Facebook profile to trick people into liking you: bad. Unfortunately modern consumers are not only smart but incredibly suspicious. Dan Ariely spoke about this in Predictably Irrational, calling it the circle of distrust. Consumers are always looking for a catch, while companies don’t trust consumers to reward them for being honest… therefore they get sneaky.
Whether or not Chick-fil-A had anything to do with the profile, this situation is going to get immensely blown up. It’s going to erode their image, making them look dishonest and sneaky. Their denials are going to fall on deaf ears. People are always far more likely to point fingers than to wait for an explanation.
I also do want to point out that some of my assumptions have proved false. I assumed that Chick-fil-A would be met with an equal amount of positive and negative reactions as Oreo. However, the reaction seems to be exceedingly negative… at least from a media perspective. Is this a sign of media favoritism? An increased pubic acceptance of same-sex marriage? Or my personal perceptions of the article? What do you think?