Gay Controversy May Have Benefited Chick-fil-A

The fast-food chain saw an increase in patronage in the third quarter, when the uproar over its antigay donations was at its height, a market research firm reports.

BY Trudy Ring

October 26 2012 6:49 PM ET

Consumers who supported Chick-fil-A’s antigay activism — or those who simply responded to the company’s heighted public profile —apparently stepped up for the fast-food chain this summer.

During the third quarter of this year, the number of people who told survey-takers they’d visited Chick-fil-A within the previous month increased 2.2% over the same period in 2011, according to the Quick-Track study by chain restaurant market research firm Sandelman & Associates.

This means “Chick-fil-A may have benefited from remarks by president and chief operating officer Dan Cathy that he supported the ‘biblical definition of the family unit,’” ABC News reports.

Cathy had said in a July interview with the Baptist Press news service that he was “guilty as charged” in opposing same-sex marriage. It had come to light that the company’s charitable foundation had donated millions to antigay groups.

LGBT activists called for a boycott of the chain and organized a Same-Sex Kiss-In Day to protest, and public officials in Chicago and Boston threatened to block the company from opening new restaurants in their cities. Meanwhile, conservatives urged supporters to patronize the chain, with former Arkansas governor  Mike Huckabee, now a Fox News Channel host, launching a Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day that generated record sales.

The controversy was “something that brought Chick-fil-A to the forefront of people’s minds,” Sandelman & Associates president Jeff Davis told ABC. “There are a lot of people who have an affinity to the brand, and when you drive those things together it drives some action.” Chick-fil-A officials declined comment.
 

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