Chick-fil-A founder and Chairman S.Truett Cathy listens during the keynote address delivered by US Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney at Liberty University’s 39th Annual Commencement in Lynchburg, Virginia, May 12, 2012. Credit: JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images
Have you ever wondered if the businesses you frequent share your political views? Well, it’s been getting easier to find out lately as a number of companies have been coming out with their positions on same sex marriage.
JCPenney recently made headlines with its Father’s Day ad featuring a gay couple and their children. Oreo became a hot topic after releasing an ad with a rainbow-stuffed cookie with the word “Pride” emblazoned beneath it. Target was called out for donating thousands of dollars to a politician with an anti-gay platform. The company then launched a sale of Gay Pride T-shirts, donating part of the proceeds to an LGBT advocacy group. Now, Target is even selling same-sex marriage greetings cards.
Then, there’s Chick-fil-A, a company that has always been open about its Christian values – and closed for business on Sundays. But recent comments from Chick-fil-A’s president Dan Cathy have stirred up a social storm. When asked in an interview with Baptist Press if his company’s support of the traditional family unit means opposition to gay marriage, Cathy replied, “Guilty as charged.” The reaction was clamorous. Supporters cheered and critics denounced the company’s political views.
What’s behind this trend of businesses airing their political views? In a country that’s so politically polarized, how risky is it for companies to take a stand on controversial issues like gay marriage? Would you take your business elsewhere if a company’s values contradict your own?
Robert Winsor, Professor of marketing and business law at Loyola Marymount’s College of Business Administration
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