A few weeks ago, the CEO of fast-food chain “Chick-fil-A” came out in an interview and stated his position on “traditional” marriage – essentially stating his disapproval of same-sex marriage. Needless to say, this ignited a firestorm of controversy resulting in both sides of the “same-sex marriage” debate vocally taking sides. Those in favour of same-sex marriage were quick to call for boycotts of the fast-food chain. Those in agreement with the CEO’s position were quick to mobilize as well – calling for people to come out and support the chain – whether they’re usual customers or not. My guess would be, sadly, that business is probably up for Chick-fil–A although I have no idea if that’s the case or not.
Now, yes, the United States is increasingly a country of extreme viewpoints, but is the politicization of brands an inevitable outcome? How much longer before The CEO of McDonald’s is questioned about his stance on Abortion? And how long before someone asks the CEO of the GAP about their views on Natural Selection? Will consumers soon be requesting the political views of a company’s leader before they make their purchase decisions? How long before changerooms ring with the refrain “these pants look great on me but I’ll pass because their CEO is a Republican.”
All this to say, is this really necessary? On one hand, it’d be nice to sit down to a meal without having to Google the social and political leanings of the Board of Directors before I order. On the other hand, I don’t really want to put money into the pocket of someone whose views I find repugnant.
It’s a complex question with no simple answers. Personally, I suspect that ignorance is bliss when it comes to the politicization of brands. And as for Chick-fil-A, well, I’m a KFC guy anyway.