Chick-fil-A has found itself in deep hot sauce with social media users after a posted response went viral. According to fans, the response allegedly called out a Twitter user’s race.
The account @KanyeIsMyDad tweeted – “grilled spicy deluxe but still noooo spicy nuggets………@ChickfilA…..”
In response, the brand tweeted – “Your community will be the first to know if spicy items are added to the permanent menu, Don!”
While the person who initiated the conversation had very few replies, Chick-fil-A’s response had nearly 9000 RTs and was inundated with replies and quote tweets due to the wording used. Users questioned the term “your community” used since the picture attached to the user’s post appeared to be African-American.
A user wrote – “Explain yourself – quickly”. While another tweeted – “Oh we going to Popeyes tonight”.
On the flip side are those who either made jokes of the overly sensitive responses or tried to bring clarity to the brands’ post. One user tweeted – “It’s just sad. People read so many negative things into a simple statement. Everything is NOT anti black! Pulling out that race card, especially on something as silly as this, is extremely tiring.
Users also illustrated past examples of the brand recently using the term to different Twitter users to showcase it wasn’t related to race but more about the location of where they live.
The brand has already faced backlash from its previous stance on LGBTQIA+ issues, which were unrelated to racial issues, emailed an apology a few days after the incident, according to Today.com. A representative from the company stated, “The response was a poor choice of words but was not intended in any way to be insensitive or disrespectful. We often use the term ‘community’ in a broader sense to talk about places where we operate restaurants and serve the surrounding community.”
As a social media marketer with a strong background in community management, a lover of Chick-fil-A, and a member of the African-American community, the response was not meant to be harmful. While it was, indeed, a “poor choice of words”, we have to look at the brands’ history on social media as context. A review of past replies from the brand readily reveals they frequently include “community” to refer to the fans’ local Chick-fil-A franchise. Unfortunately, this case included all the makings of a long-standing stereotype – Black people love spicy food, specifically chicken.
Now, I would be the first person to call out a #BrandRewind moment when a brand blatantly makes a misstep; however, I applaud Chick-fil-A for issuing an apology. A poor choice of words is not the same as a racist response. They took accountability for their actions – although the questionable answer remains on social media. However, marketing should take the time to reassess how they respond to fans in the future; otherwise, they may find themselves again in deep hot sauce.
Barika Phillips Bell is the co-founder of the award winning company, B3 Media Solutions, a social media research, listening (search & social), analytics, data visualization, and reporting agency. She has over 15+ years experience within social media on both the brand and agency side.