Chick-fil-A's outspoken president Dan Cathy once again shared his opinion on same-sex marriage following the Supreme Court's decision on Wednesday to strike down a portion of the federal Defense of Marriage Act.
“Sad day for our nation; founding fathers would be ashamed of our gen. to abandon wisdom of the ages re: cornerstone of strong societies,” Cathy tweeted.
The tweet has since been deleted, but not before one of Cathy's followers re-tweeted it.
Chick-fil-A spokeswoman Carrie Kurlander told The Wall Street Journal: “Dan Cathy, like everyone in this country, has his own views. However, Chick-fil-A is focused on providing great-tasting food and genuine hospitality to everyone.”
Yet many people will likely interpret Cathy's view as Chick-fil-A's stance on the issue. Social and digital media have made it more difficult than ever for companies to separate what their leaders say in one forum from their overall corporate message.
Last year, after Chick-fil-A came under fire for Cathy's anti-gay marriage comments in the Baptist Press, PR leaders told me Cathy had not taken into account the volatile media environment in which he spoke.
“You can't leave your CEO keys at the door, go home, make a call to a niche publication, and not remember that what you say, wherever and whenever, will be repeated,” Ben Boyd, global chair of the corporate practice at Edelman, said at the time. “Too many leaders do not understand that the line of differentiation between inside and outside the office has become increasingly blurred by the advance of digital and social transparency.”
Case in point: your CEO sends a tweet, and someone takes a screenshot.
Last September, Chick-fil-A took steps to repair its reputational damage by agreeing to end donations to groups that oppose same-sex marriage.
Kurlander joined Chick-fil-A in April as VP of PR, succeeding communications leader Don Perry, who died last July as the company faced a PR firestorm over Cathy's remarks.
Following the Supreme Court's DOMA ruling earlier this week, brands such as Apple, Johnson & Johnson, Citi, and Goldman Sachs came out in support of the decision. Marriott is launching an LGBT-themed campaign starring its employees in an extension of the company's first LGBT marketing campaign, Be You, With Us, which launched last June.