What do Chick-fil –A and Starbucks have in common besides food and beverages? Controversy – and lots of it – as the executive leaders of both companies have taken public stands on one of America’s most contentious cultural and public policy issues.
You probably heard about the Chick-fil-A fiasco of last year. Founded by S. Truett Cathy, today the company is headed by Truett’s son Dan Cathy, and in June and July of 2012 the company and its franchisees was subject to maligning in the media and attempted boycotts by liberal activist groups because of public statements that Dan made about his support for traditional heterosexual marriage.
The fact that Chick-fil-A is one of the most successful restaurant enterprises in the world and that it employs lots of Americans simply did not matter to the liberal activists. It also didn’t matter that in 2010 Chick-fil-A became the global chain restaurant leader based on an “average annual sales per restaurant” calculation, nor did it matter that the company has one of the lowest franchise entry costs in the world, or that it receives an average of 20,000 applications to fill its annual 60-70 franchise openings each year. And it probably didn’t matter to the boycotters that they were reacting to one man’s opinion, an opinion that isn’t necessarily shared by all Chick-fil-A franchisees and employees.
All that mattered, apparently, was that Dan Cathy expressed the “wrong opinion,” so far as the liberal activists were concerned, and it was therefore time to bring harm to his company. After an initial backlash was attempted against the company and its franchisees, a “backlash against the backlash” eventually ensued and Chick-fil-A saw an uptick in their revenues. But the lesson of this episode was clear: some of our fellow Americans are quite willing to damage a local employer in their area if it seems politically beneficial to do so.
Austin Hill is an Author, Consultant, and Host of "Austin Hill's Big World of Small Business," a syndicated talk show about small business ownership and entrepreneurship. He is Co-Author of the new release "The Virtues Of Capitalism: A Moral Case For Free Markets." , Author of "White House Confidential: The Little Book Of Weird Presidential History," and a frequent guest host for Washington, DC's 105.9 WMAL Talk Radio.