Why Chick-Fil-A Once Paused Its 'Eat Mor Chikin' Campaign

Chick-fil-A has built a strong brand reputation by creating outstanding food, served up with great customer service. It has been the key to their success, catapulting the fast food chain to the number one spot on the list of best chicken restaurants for 2020 (via The Harris Poll). The accolades don't end there. According to the 2020 Axios Harris Poll and 34,026 Americans, Chick-fil-A ranked 11th on a list of 100 companies when it comes to reputation. 

Of course, it doesn't hurt that their original chicken sandwiches with those two pickles are mouthwateringly delish, or that their waffle fries taste fantastic when you dip them into the Chick-fil-A sauce. Chick-fil-A's food is, indeed, swoon-worthy. In fact, Mashed did its own poll, asking participants what fast food they would eat for the rest of their life if they could only eat at one quick service restaurant. Over a quarter of those who responded said it would be none other than Chick-fil-A.

But the food is only part of the equation. Chick-fil-A really has built a strong culture that prizes putting its values and ethics into daily practice. In fact, its founder, Truett Cathy, said, "We should be about more than just selling chicken. We should be a part of our customers' lives and the communities in which we serve" (via Chick-fil-A). A case in point is when Chick-fil-A was compelled to pause its "Eat Mor Chikin" campaign during a beef crisis in 2004. 

Chick-fil-A stopped its 'Eat Mor Chikin' campaign because of mad cow disease

Per The Chicken Wire blog, Chick-fil-A's "Eat Mor Chikin" campaign launched in 1995, utilizing two "rebellious" and mischievous black and white cows, to humorously encourage would-be patrons to skip the burger and instead "Eat Mor Chikin." It was a great success. How could it not have been with those prankster cows, right? But Chief Marketer noted that the company temporarily suspended some of its marketing and advertising in 2004 when mad cow disease hit the beef industry.

At the time, Jerry Johnston, a Chick-fil-A spokesperson, told Chief Marketer, "We wanted to be pro-active and take the high road. The campaign was scheduled to kick off this week and we simply delayed it and put it on hold while we continue to monitor the events taking place with mad cow disease." We think this was definitely a good public relations move on Chick-fil-A's part, and clearly, it didn't hurt the brand because we still love its chicken.

But the move also underscored the fact that Chick-fil-A walks the talk when it comes to its values. Johnston further explained, "The bottom line is that it is not our intention to make light or take advantage of any food or safety issues. We are still encouraging folks to eat more chicken, although we are delaying any advertising and marketing materials that specifically reference the consumption of beef."