Aye, the fast food marketers are at it again with their cheeky tweets and bold declarations. This time, Burger King is going after the chicken sandwich market share that Chick-fil-A holds dearly. And what better way than to take Chick-fil-A’s philanthropic reputation and turn it on its head.
The chicken-based meals giant, Chick-fil-A, is not only known for their employees’ chipper attitudes, but also for donating to charities with anti-LGBTQ stances. In 2012, these donations came to head and sparked heavy debates, ultimately causing threats from politicians banning the restaurant from their cities. As of 2020, Chick-fil-A has modified their philanthropic giving plan to exclude charities that take anti-LGBTQ stances. But their homophobic reputation has failed to fully shred and their competitors are using it to their advantage.
So it’s no surprise that Burger King would release their chicken sandwich (the Ch’King) during Pride Month when competing against the nation’s third largest restaurant chain, Chick-fil-A. Via tweet, they pledged to donate 40 cents for every chicken sandwich sold in June to The Human Rights Campaign in support of the LGBTQ community. Serious shade was thrown at Chick-fil-A when Burger King added “even on Sundays” which is when Chick-fil-A is known to be closed for the sabbath.
Cause-marketing is a tactic that occurs when a company does well by doing good. But to effectively do cause-marketing, your tactics must go beyond changing your profile pic to pink in October or dumping a bucket of ice water over your head for ALS. Yes, brand awareness is cool, but today’s society is expecting more substance. Doing the bare minimum is lazy. Back your efforts up with money, time, or your authentic voice if you really want to make an impact.
A good example of this is the black tile movement that happened one year ago when Americans were trying to show solidarity with the black community after the murder of George Floyd. People took to Instagram to post a black square with a promise not to post anything else that day. The idea was to flood people’s feeds with black tiles in hopes to bring awareness. It was called “Blackout Tuesday” and became more of a teachable moment than anything else. The Black Lives Matter movement was inadvertently harmed when the black tile posts, using the hashtag #blacklivesmatter, drowned out crucial BLM resources and calls to action. By the evening, partakers began deleting their passive black tile posts and replaced them with apologies.
So how can your company effectively partake in cause-related marketing without being trite? First and foremost, be authentic and speak your truth. Burger King stood up for a cause they believed in and were unrelentless when speaking their truth. Furthermore, they backed their voice up with money by making a donation to the Human Rights Campaign supporting members of the LGBTQ community. Will this anger some of their customers? Probably. At this point, do they care? Probably not, because speaking their internal truth is more important than losing a customer. And integrity should never be compromised.
Now, don’t feel like your company needs to take a vocal stand on every complex or divisive issue just because that’s what everyone else is doing. What might be important to Company A might not be as important to Company B. In other words, you do you. As for political, social, or religious issues, your company can only decide for itself where the line is and if or when it needs to be crossed. So when an injustice occurs, we encourage you to find that line.
As a business, it’s important to be authentic even in the face of adversity. And if you really believe in your truth, then it’s easy to allocate your resources (whether time or money) to causes larger than your product or service. Today’s generations are craving substance and want to know they are investing in companies who are going to leave this world better than yesterday. They are looking to align with a purpose-driven brand. So find your truth and connect!