Tampa, Florida - The view of Chick-fil-A's president supporting a traditional marriage struck a nerve with some people who are for it and against it. How has it affected sponsorship?
The Tampa Bay Rays have a large sign promoting Chick-fil-A out in right field. During the game, fans play "spot the cow" and during spring training, they can buy the Chick-fil-A Original sandwich. The Rays have said "No Comment" on the issue, but others are speaking out. The Jim Henson Company from the Muppets reportedly pulled their support.
Some city leaders in Boston and Chicago don't want the restaurant in their cities, but overall the public relations damage seems to be minimal so far.
One look around the dining area at USF's Marshall Center and it is clear that Chick-fil-A is a favorite. Tatiana Broughton bought the original chicken sandwich and waffle fries for lunch, saying "I like their food."
When the president for Chick-fil-A shared his views supporting traditional marriage, it struck a nerve throughout the social media world, sparking a record breaking day when supporters turned out to 1 of 1600 restaurants on Wednesday.
"My feeling is it won't affect Chick-fil-A's bottom line too much in the long run," says USF's marketing professor Dip Biswas. "I don't think they'd say anything strongly without thinking of the consequences," says Biswas.
Meanwhile much of the likes and dislikes for the restaurant are driven on the web. The St. Petersburg Chick-fil-a on 4th Street has more than 800 likes on its Facebook page. There's also a Facebook page opposed to the Chick-fil-A food being sold at USF.
Jonathan Noboa, a USF student, says "I don't think they should stop selling the product. It's the CEO's own opinion, he's not discriminating against gay people, he doesn't stop selling to gay people or hiring gay people in the work place."
Eric Monte-De-Orca, another USF student, adds "Just because the CEO is against gays has nothing to do with the business side of it. I think they should be sold on campus."
USF student David Ohman says the restaurant's view should not surprise anyone. "It's not a big deal. They are a Christian group, they are Christian run, so why is it such a shock they are against Gay marriage? If people like Chick-fil-A, they should be able to buy it. It's popular at USF."
A USF spokesperson says the Chick-fil-A eatery at the student center is not part of the Chick-fil-A company. It is operated and managed by ARAMARK, USF's food service provider. University officials say they will keep the student's views in mind when reviewing the contract.
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