Chick-fil-A has sucked for longer and for more reasons than people realize. I disliked Chick-fil-A before its CEO took his stand on “biblical marriage,” pissing off the Pajanimals (they are Jim Henson creatures but not licensed Muppets) and before a Georgia franchise was slapped with a gender discrimination suit, allegedly firing a female employee because her boss felt she should be a stay-at-home mom.
I won’t even get into politics and religion, as far deeper thinkers than I (along with a lot of knee-jerkers) have got those covered. (For a response to this debacle that’s both God-loving and equality-promoting, read Emily Bennington’s blog post.)
What bothers me about Chick-fil-A is that it’s somehow tied to popularity in East Texas. Even before Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day, which caused traffic jams everywhere (including on Facebook), the Chick-fil-A in Longview, Texas, was usually packed, sometimes by entire kids’ sports teams. I gather there’s considerable peer pressure on kids to go there after games and tournaments as opposed to, say, eating something healthy during the sports season. Kids also feel pressured and entitled to have Chick-fil-A delivered to school by their parents when an occasion such as field day calls for a sack lunch. This means working parents have to figure something out. And this makes me mad, but it all comes full circle because now we’re back to stay-at-home moms and how indispensible they are. (Surely that gal in Georgia did not need her earnings from Chick-fil-A to provide for her children, but worked there for the pure joy of it, to be around all that grease and godliness.)
Why does Chick-fil-A’s irresistibility to children perturb me so? There’s the whole childhood obesity thing, but Chick-fil-A is not singlehandedly making kids fat. What irks me is I can’t figure out how Chick-fil-A got so popular among the impressionable. I figure as a brand strategist, copywriter and critical thinker, I should be able to tease this out. My friend suggested it’s the cleverness and cartoonish appeal of the “Eat Mor Chikn” campaign. Sigh. That ad bugs for a number of reasons:
- The misspellings. Yes, I know the signs are supposed to be written by cows but…
- Cows don’t write.
- Even if they did, they would stand in solidarity with chickens against factory farming.
- Also, the cows doing the writing I believe are Holsteins, which are dairy cows, and therefore not likely to be eaten.
Nevertheless, Chick-fil-A is fiercely protective of this campaign, having once sent a cease-and-desist order to a Vermont folk artist who sold T-shirts imploring folks to “Eat More Kale” (note the correct spelling). Chick-fil-A argued the T-shirt was “likely to cause confusion of the public and dilutes the distinctiveness of Chick-fil-A’s intellectual property.”
Confusion of the public? If you wanted breaded chicken, could you ever be duped into buying kale?
As I see it, Chick-fil-A is a corporate bully. But, for whatever reason, kids dig it.