Chick-fil-A Thrives Despite Flak over Marriage

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Nearly three months after fast-food giant Chick-fil-A came under-fire for its president's personal views on the biblical definition of marriage, the company has seen great gains.

Chick-fil-A saw a 2.2 percent increase in customer traffic and 6.5 percent in ad awareness at a time when gay activists were calling for boycotts against the chain.

The third quarter figures are based on a Sandelman & Associates survey of more than 30,000 consumers.

"There was a lot of talk that this would hurt Chick-fil-A, but it actually helped the brand," Jeff Davis, president of Sandelman, said.

During the third quarter, Chick-fil-A broadened its regular customer base in 28 of 35 media markets, he said.

The numbers have baffled several experts.

"Chick-fil-A did everything wrong in the book," Chris Goddard, president of CGPR, said. "Their president shot from the hip, and his PR team was not equipped or prepared (to respond). It was a PR disaster and a clear case of what not to do in a crisis."

But public relations executive Ronn Torossian, with 5WPR, said the result confirms the fact that not all brands must appeal to everyone.

"Brands that take risks can win big rewards, but they must be prepared for the backlash that comes with it," he said.

Chick-fil-A released a statement last month that reiterated the chain's intent stating that it does not intend to "support political or social agendas.

Executive vice president, Steve Robinson said Chick-fil-A's culture "is to treat every person with honor, dignity and respect - regardless of their belief, race, creed, sexual orientation or gender."

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