Friday, August 15, 2014

Forays into US Culture: Chick-fil-A's "eat the other guy" message

In San Francisco Bay Area the Chick-fil-A eateries circle the outer rims of the bay but do not enter. The closest Chick-fil-A eateries are in San Jose (3 of 'em); Fairfield - home of Travis Air Force Base - has more than one.
Only guessing here...but the lack of Chick-fil-A stores in the inner bay could be due to the controversy stirred up by Chick-fil-A President and CEO Dan Cathy's narrow-minded and homophobic comments over marriage equality. (HuffPo quotes Cathy on how he has grown since that Time of Great Awakening, “Every leader goes through different phases of maturity, growth and development and it helps by (recognizing) the mistakes that you make....And you learn from those mistakes. If not, you’re just a fool. I’m thankful that I lived through it and I learned a lot from it."
Hooray! Good on 'ya, Dan. Note to Dan: that should be true of everyone, not just "every leader." Let me digress a little further before getting back onto what is the point of this post. Perhaps Chick-fil-A's management understands how thoroughly it ... cooked...its 'er...goose... in the gay-positive SF Bay Area and that any attempt to insert a chicken outpost here will be met with great popular opposition.)

With little access to Chick-fil-A eateries in and around the San Francisco Bay Area I took myself off to the Houston Bay Area to explore Chick-fil-A.
This particular Chick-fil-A is located, as are most businesses in Texas - at least businesses that do not own their own skyscraper - in an everyday-Texas flat-no-frills-no-visual-design-appeal mall along with a Super Target, a Home Depot, and an IHOP. It offers nothing that is not offered at any other Chick-fil-A in the country (and that's saying something about organizational regimentation for there are more than 1,800 Chick-fil-A locations in 39 states plus Washington, D.C. Annual sales in 2013? More than $5 billion).
I found a company with - to my quirky mind - brilliant branding campaigns and advertizing. I pondered, for some time, Chick-fil-A's branding and all-'merican message: eat the other guy! That's 'merica in a nutshell: "I'm alright, Jack...keep you hands off my stack". Not sure why Chick-fil-A has to position itself as ignorant, childlike, and a poor speller (or is it simply "child-positive"?) The Chick-fil-A clientele in the store  I visited near Houston was predominantly working-class. Is the underlying message that working stiffs feel at home in an establishment biased against sexual orientation and toward illiteracy? (something like: "Being publicly illiterate is okay but doing anything irregular with your genitals and your emotions in private is not okay.")
I think I find this branding fascinating partly because it is so politically incorrect ... certainly it flies in the face of what works in the SF Bay's kind of other worldly - just like Texas - and either doesn't know or doesn't care.
Fun logo....
Door to the "Playgrownd 4 Little Chickin Eatrz Onlee"
My favorite: The all-'merican steer, dressed for golf or BBQ, suggesting the hungry focus on 'the other guy' for better eatin'

Clean, good typography, nice pix...
Ditto... good advertizing no sociopolitical proselytizing other than the all-'merican message to eat the other!
 Company facts:
  • Chick-fil-A is privately held and family owned.
  • It all started in 1946, when Truett Cathy opened his first restaurant, Dwarf Grill, in Hapeville, Georgia. 
  • The first Chick-fil-A Restaurant opened at a mall in suburban Atlanta in 1967.

Check out other entries in the series, Forays into US Culture....

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