Readers of this blog know that I'm a big fan of Chick-fil-A and have even extolled its marketing and social media prowess in this space. Now the company finds itself embroiled in controversy after its president said what many people already suspected: Homosexuality conflicts with the restaurant chain's brand of conservative Christianity and it does not support marriage equality.
Naturally, this has provoked calls for boycotts from liberal-minded Chick-fil-A lovers. I posted this counter-argument on my Facebook page, casting about for a way to continue to take my children there with a clean conscience. After all, the company treats its customers well, and I don't even know where many of the places I shop stand on the issues that are important to me.
But the veil of ignorance, once lifted, cannot be lowered again. An effective brand makes you feel good about using its products, even if those products aren't particularly good for you -- like fast food. Part of Chick-fil-A's appeal is that it makes you feel good taking your kids there. The food may not be much healthier than other fast food but it seems of good quality, presented with great service in clean, well-maintained facilities. Even if you don't share the company's religious faith it's hard not to appreciate that Chick-fil-A doesn't shove Hollywood tie-ins down your kids' throats. The place feels wholesome.
Or at least it used to. Chick-fil-A has always marketed its values alongside its chicken. Maybe its customers should have understood all along what those values were. They won't get fooled again.