Cheeky Chick: The Chick-fil-A Corporate Presence

Being a New Yorker, I did not know about or ever heard the name Chick-fil-A before the corporation’s president Dan Cathy made his public comments opposing same-sex marriage. So, when the opportunity presented itself during a recent trip to LA, I was on the look-out for an actual store. I don’t usually let ideology stand in the way of food, but there was something strange about Chick-fil-A’s corporate presence—it wasn’t bad. In fact, it was rather cheeky. chick_fil_aI guess you can’t tell a fast food chicken dispensary from its logo or advertising campaigns. In addition to Cathy’s obnoxious anti-same sex religious views (which are his business) there is another practice that has earned ire among animal rights advocates and anyone with a heart.

In the name of cheap chicken sandwiches and burgers, millions of birds destined for one of the more than 1,600 Chick-fil-A U.S. outlets spend their time packed in dark, airless warehouses amid their own excrement, manufactured to grow at such unnatural speeds, one has to suspect the effect on humans of the growth hormones being used.

So next time someone like me is taken in by clever design and advertising, its good to wake up and smell the chickens (and the cows and the pigs and the sheep).  Chick-fil-A-Cow-lg

For more Steven Heller, check out Citizen Designer: Perspectives on Design Responsibility, one of the many Heller titles available at

3 thoughts on “Cheeky Chick: The Chick-fil-A Corporate Presence

  1. kirsten bowen

    um, ok. did Chick-fil-a steal my idea?
    i feel like I’m too “small” for that, but the irony is that I’ve been doing a performance based on equality for the last few years that involves cows wearing sandwich signs. The idea is that young adult kids come and go into the uncertain world and will be back “when the #cowscomehome.
    I wish I could attach an image, but here’s a link…
    my sandwich signs have mouths with words embedded in the texture that say things about gender equality, racial equality etc. this is weird and frustrating.…11977.25730.0.26023.….0…1.1.64.psy-ab..4.2.247…0i13k1j0i13i30k1.JlVKpl6_T4A

  2. Chaz DeSimone

    Steve, I greatly appreciate your transparent view on the beliefs of Dan Cathy. I call it Redneck Religion.

    I grew up in Los Angeles and we have just a spattering of Chick Fil A’s. But until I moved into his hick-invested Riverside County a few years ago I thought it was pronounced “chick FIL uh”. Never associate “filet” with chicken. Anyway, ate there once and enjoyed the food and hospitality (typical bible belt giddiness). But when I went back there was a huge line, and when I asked what was happening, the porker in front of me turned around with his big horseteeth grin and said, “All in the name of God.” Huh? Then I extracted it out of someone else: everyone in line was supporting Dan Cathy and the company in the face of a recent or upcoming boycott. I immediately jumped out of line, shouted some scathingly rude remarks about their herd of moronic pseudo-Chrisitanity followers, and proceeded back to my car, at which point I noticed a small group of people with signs. I went over to them, discovered they were all gay (a couple were quite obvious!) and told them I’m not gay because I wasn’t born gay, but those who are have every right to be so, and to get married as well. (I actually love my gay friends and especially clients, as their design sense and appreciation of my work is supremely gratifying.) So I made a few friends that day in that little group, especially after I supported by empathy with the fact I’m a nudist and realize how we have to endure criticism by the “uninitiated” when we know in our hearts and souls we are doing what’s natural and perfect – and not forcing our views down anyone else’s tiny mentality.

    Then I went to Jack in the Box. I loved their old wacky logo in the ’70s, and still they’re the hippest fast food chain around. Totally opposite Chick-Fuk-A.

    Steve, your articles are always so brilliant and so diverse, and I’ve wanted to comment on them several times, but today I made the effort to register my account so I could leave this message.

    Thank you for your brutal New Yak honesty.

  3. Pannekoek

    My biggest problem with this identity — and this is only from a branding standpoint, not a social one — is the spelling of their name. “Chick-fil-A” reads to me like “Chick Fillah” (rhymes with an r-dropping Brooklyn or Southern-accented pronunciation of “filler”). There are more than one not-entirely strange double-entendres here, given that it’s food, and also given the company’s rabid promotion of the heterosexual lifestyle.

    I’m sure this isn’t what they intended, since most folks who actually have exposure to the brand have heard the name uttered. I haven’t, except for in news reports.

    But if they wanted their name to be read and pronounced properly, as a down-home, kutesy spelling of “fillet”, why not call it “Chick-fi-LAY”?