Quality products are more important than corporate quirks

The controversy over speculation that Chick-fil-A supports anti-gay groups raises the issue of how much room there is in the corporate structure for cause, value, and beliefs.

The controversy over speculation that Chick-fil-A supports anti-gay groups raises the issue of how much room there is in the corporate structure for cause, value, and beliefs.

The suggestion that Chick-fil-A provided free food for an anti-gay group's event produced a backlash from Indiana University South Bend, which temporarily cut the fast-food company from its list of campus vendors, and a Facebook group formed to remove Chick-fil-A from the NYU campus.

The response from Chick-fil-A president and COO Dan Cathy was a strong statement defending the Christian beliefs upon which the family founded the corporation. The statement was equally strong in its message that the company has “no agenda against anyone” and “values all people regardless of their beliefs or opinions.”

Chick-fil-A is not alone in being a corporation based on the religious beliefs of its founding family. Clothing store Forever 21 was founded by Christians, and the store's yellow shopping bags carry the biblical reference John 3:16. Fast-food chain In-N-Out Burger also prints John 3:16 on the bottom rim of its cups - and its burger wrappers reference Revelation 3:20.

There are three reactions to corporations that align themselves with a certain belief: some are brought closer to the brand because it reflects their own beliefs; some are offended and speak out against the brand; and some aren't bothered.

Cathy's response was unapologetic and didn't downplay the close religious ties of the organization. Chick-fil-A chose not to run from the issue, but faced it head-on and provided a defense. The repercussions of a corporation stepping outside the box in which personal beliefs and values exist are mixed, but in the end it all ties back to the key issue of quality of product.

As one PRWeek commenter said: “At the end of the day, I eat at Chick-fil-A about once a month for a few basic reasons: the food is good, the restaurants are clean, the staff is friendly and courteous, and the food is served quickly."

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