In today’s device-driven world, it’s a challenge for families to have dinner without someone clicking away on their phone. Some Chick-fil-A restaurants want to change that.
This week, the “Cell Phone Coop Challenge” debuted at only 150 of the brand’s 1,900 fast-food locations. Here’s the gist: If each family member puts their mobile phone in a “cell phone coop” for the duration of the meal, everyone gets free ice cream.
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Georgia-based Chick-fil-A operator Brad Williams explained the concept in a statement:
“We really want our restaurant to provide a sense of community for our customers, where family and friends can come together and share quality time with one another. But as we all know, technology increasingly demands more of our time and can be a big distraction, even while we’re eating.”
Although the marketing gimmick is on-brand for the family-friendly organization, the initiative is not corporate. A Chick-Fil-A spokeswoman told CNET that the Cell Phone Coop is an opt-in program that was created by a franchise operator, not the brainchild of CEO, Dan T. Cathy.
As the restaurant chain has a shaky history with marital tolerance, it’s possible that Cathy hasn’t backed the concept because it leaves the definition of “family” up to the guest. In 2012, Cathy got into hot water with consumers after a Baptist Press interview put his religious beliefs in the spotlight.
"We are very much supportive of the family—the biblical definition of the family unit,” he told a Baptist Press reporter. “We are a family-owned business, a family-led business and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that.”
If the idea is a success, it’s unknown whether or not it will roll out across all Chick-Fil-A locations.