Looks like the Chick-Fil-A cows will be hibernating for awhile.
Chick-fil-A is postponing its latest advertising featuring those iconic bovines to avoid appearing insensitive to concerns about the first U.S. case of mad cow disease.
The Atlanta-based restaurant chain had planned to unveil a new round of in-store and direct-mail advertising in January. In addition to shelving that campaign, the company will examine advertising such as billboards.
"It's not the intention of Chick-fil-A to make light or take advantage of any food health crisis," Chick-fil-A spokesman Jerry Johnston said Tuesday. "We are voluntarily withdrawing or delaying our advertising. We don't want people to perceive that we are taking advantage of what is happening in any way."
Like others in the fast-food industry, Chick-fil-A reported a sales slump in early 2003 because of a straining economy and concerns about the war in Iraq. But Chick-fil-A has seen its same-store sales rise during the past six months as the economy has picked up steam.
Laura Ries, president of Ries & Ries consultants, said holding off on the ads is a smart idea. No matter how clever or inoffensive Chick-fil-A tries to make its marketing, the company doesn't want to do anything — even indirectly — that would associate itself with the disease.
"There is no need to throw salt on a wound, so to speak," she said. "You always want to lie low in these situations."
Johnston said Chick-fil-A's cow campaign, in its ninth year, has avoided any association with mad cow disease.