Chick-Fil-A Battles PR Nightmare Over Same-Sex Marriage Stance

on July 25 2012 4:06 PM
Chick-fil-A
Chick-fil-A is in hot water over its perceived anti-gay marriage stance. Chick-fil-A

Chick-fil-A faces its latest public relations disaster on Wednesday, when Internet users alleged the fast food company was creating fake Facebook users to defend the company's anti-gay-marriage stance.

The fiasco started when Chick-fil-A President and Chief Operating Officer Dan Cathy told the Baptist Press that the College Park, Ga.- based company opposed same-sex marriage. He said that the company, which doesn't operate on Sundays, was 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 lives.

Cathy's comments drew the ire of long-time customers, companies and even cities.

Boston Mayor Thomas Menino issued a statement that Chick-fil-A doesn't belong in Boston because it discriminates against a population. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, President Obama's former chief of staff, supported Menino's statement and said that Chick-fil-A values are not Chicago values.

Others, like New York University and Northeastern University, have previously put forth bans on the fast-food joint, known for its fried chicken, moving to their campuses.

Some of the company's few supporters include former Republican presidential nominees Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee.

None of those public comments compare to the drama surrounding the Jim Henson Company's decision to sever its business relationship with Chick-fil-A. The company released a statement that it supported diversity and inclusiveness for more than 50 years and decided to donate the payment it received from Chick-fil-A, for Henson toys in the chain's Kid's Meals, to the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD).

That apparently didn't sit too well with Chick-fil-A, which released a statement that Henson toys were taken out of its stores due to safety issues and not because the Jim Henson Company publicly ended the relationship.

It further decided to go on the offensive to support its decision to pull Henson toys by allegedly creating fake Facebook accounts, according to Gizmodo. It created one fake user named Abby Farle, a youngish-looking redhead, to combat the thousands of negative comments the company was receiving on its public Facebook page.

Farle was later discovered to be an account created only eight hours before commenting on the company page and one that used a stock photo of a redheaded teenager from Shutterstock.

Buzzfeed found another account, named Cordell Bunton that had been used only for supporting Chick-fil-A, but has since gotten deleted.

Despite mounting evidence, Chick-fil-A denied the allegations to Buzzfeed.

We have seen this and it is not true, spokeswoman Tiffany Greenway told BuzzFeed. Chick-fil-A has not created a separate or a false Facebook account. We don't know who created it.

The denial likely won't stop the hate Chick-fil-A has received since Cathy made his comments on July 16. Whether Chick-fil-A is creating fake Facebook accounts can be debated -- the evidence points to yes -- the company has badly mangled its crisis public relations situation.

It attempted to slightly distance itself from Cathy's comment, when it released a statement that it would like to leave the same-sex marriage debate to the government and political arena, but that seemed to only further infuriate the masses.

Chick-fil-A has a major crisis on its hands and unless it suddenly reverses its decision and ends relationships with anti-gay- marriage organizations -- such as the Family Research Council and Marriage & Family Foundation -- don't expect this debate to die out anytime soon. It also could have a clear impact on its finances, especially if more and more major cities vow bans.

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