Content brand of the week: Chick-fil-A, the brand using content to save its reputation

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Isn’t Chick-fil-A the US fast-food restaurant run by a load of right-wing nutbars?

In a word, yes. When it isn’t making the news for trying to outlaw gay marriage, Chik-fil-A is known for producing cheap chicken-based fast food.

So far, I’m not lovin’ it.

Well you don’t have to love the brand to admire the thinking behind its latest content launch. It’s called ‘Let’s Gather’ and it’s focused on eating healthy, being well and goodness in general.

Isn’t that kind of at odds with its media-eval anti-LGBT activities?

Yes, but that’s precisely the point. The brand is trying to distance itself from the negative associations that have majorly damaged its rep in the past two years.

And is it working?

Well, not really. On one level the site looks great and is a sumptuous, enjoyable corner of the web to spend some time, but it has come under heavy fire for a lack of authenticity. As Jillian Richardson of Contently says, “One of the biggest issues with the authenticity of Let’s Gather is that it doesn’t focus on foods that are available on the chain’s menu. For example, most consumers are aware that wild salmon and chia seeds have never made it within shouting distance of Chick-fil-A’s value meals.”

Is it a case of ‘chia’s for nothing then’ for Chick-fil-A?

You could put it like that. I wouldn’t, but you could. You see one of the most fundamental parts of creating an effective content strategy is brand relevance. Any brand, large or small, has to be authentic in its content – offering something that not only overlaps with its own aims (in this case, to be perceived as a ‘good’ brand that cares about its audience) and the needs of its consumer (a desire to eat healthier) – the disconnect comes when the consumer need isn’t met by the brand’s product. It’s all very well talking about something in a convincing, innovative or shareable way, but if you don’t have the substance to back it up then you’re going to be left with a broken promise to your customer.

So your average fried chicken consumer is savvy enough to see through this stuff.

Exactly. Until Chick-fil-A can back things up with substance there’s no sense in creating great content, no matter how stylish it is. When you compare the Let’s Gather site to something like this video from Chipotle (another US fast-food brand), you begin to see what a fulfilled brand promise looks like.

Chipotle’s brand promise is ‘food with integrity’, something you can instantly associate with the film.

I think I’m getting a little misty-eyed.

Bet it made you want to eat at Chipotle too. The point behind all this tear jerking is that inauthentic content like ‘Let’s Gather’ is totally useless, if not majorly damaging – no matter how well it’s executed or how great it looks. Brands shouldn’t try to dupe their audience. Instead they should aim to connect with them, be transparent and tell great stories.

Chick-fil-A is clucking up the wrong tree.

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More from Tom Owen
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Author: Tom Owen

A strategic storyteller and compelling content creator, awash with acuity and adept at alliteration. I work for Speak Media.

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