Chick-fil-A's vice president of public relations, Don Perry, died today of a heart attack. He had been with the company for 29 years. The company hasn't released a statement explaining why or how he died (and it's highly unlikely a rep will ever say "due to dealing with our massive marketing crisis"), but now the company has no chief spokesperson, which might be slightly problematic — especially since there might be another PR mess on the horizon.
Last night, Decatur Metro posted a touching letter from the owners of the area's Chick-Fi-A in Decatur, prompting sympathy for the owner-operators, who came off as kindhearted, hardworking folks unable to do anything that would cross their corporate overlords. An excerpt:
Since opening in March of 2005, Chick-fil-A Downtown Decatur has been dedicated to serving our guests with honor, dignity and respect. We work our hearts out to make sure every guest receives amazing food and service regardless of belief, race, creed, sexual orientation or gender. Nothing about our agenda has changed.
We know that some of our guests are upset by comments made by Dan Cathy, president of Chick-fil-A Inc. He has made it clear to me those were his personal views, and that his intent was not to speak on behalf of every Chick-fil-A owner. We hope those who are upset will look at their relationship with our restaurant and allow us to continue to serve them. If you have questions or concerns, please come into the restaurant and speak with me personally.
Wow, sounds like a Lifetime movie ready to happen. But today, a commenter on the post found a similar note from a Chick-fil-A in Hollywood, and someone else found one from Chicago. Hmm, suddenly the heartfelt note sounds more like a modified form letter, doesn't it?
On the Chick-Fil-A Decatur Facebook, the Crays claim they wrote the letter but that they sent it to corporate "for review" and that it may have "been used as a model for other statements."
You think the company would've learned to play it safe on the internet after rumors surfaced that a spokesperson was pretending to be a teenage girl supporter on Facebook earlier this week. (The company denied the claims.) Will Chick-fil-A have any time to defend the Crays now that Perry is gone? Hopefully Dan Cathy is currently having a panic attack and thinking, "Hmm, maybe this whole same-sex marriage thing doesn't sound so bad after all."
A Statement from the Decatur Chick Fil-A Owner/Operators [Decatur Metro]