Thursday, August 02, 2012

UPDATED: In Reply: The Wendy's Nontroversy: Machiavelli in the modern age

In reply to The Wendy’s social media saga | VentureBeat

Wendy's handled it poorly, and made the situation far, far worse...

But there's a lot left unanswered on the merits of the thing. Did the franchisee have the right to "speak" on Wendy's signpost? (I'm guessing the franchise contract speaks to this.) When you work for someone else--or in someone else's name--your right to free speech in the workplace isn't absolute.

In saying " We proudly serve ALL customers!,"did the Wendy's PR person really say anything different than what the Chick-fil-A PR person said in their 7/31 press release?: "The Chick-fil-A culture and service tradition in our restaurants is to treat every person with honor, dignity and respect –regardless of their belief, race, creed, sexual orientation or gender."

Is Chick-fil-A implying other fast food restaurants DON'T treat everyone with honor, dignity, and respect?!? Should people be sending them hundreds (thousands?) of angry tweets in response to their "obvious insinuation" about their competition?

No, because there's nothing offensive in either restaurant saying they proudly serve everyone...except to folks looking to create more faux controversy and gin up that cohesive anger that brings (the right kind of) folks together against a common "enemy." Machiavelli still gets results in this modern age.

Posted 8/2/12, 'round noon or so

Also blogging:
The Bullshit Manufactured Wendy’s Controversy |

UPDATE, 8/3/12, 6:00 PM: Found the following while searching for more information last night. While this policy is for employees, and it says elsewhere in this policy statement that franchisees are not employees, I can't imagine that the policies on political / community participation in the workplace are all that much different. Two sections of the 'Wendy's Company' employee manual:
Code of Conduct | COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT | About Wendy's

As concerned and responsible citizens, employees of Wendy's are encouraged to participate in community activities. Wendy's will strive to:

Function as an integral part of the local communities in which it conducts its business operations; and
Remain keenly aware of the benefits it and its employees receive from participating in any activities that improve the health, well-being, education and culture of the community.
Being partners with our communities, we have a responsibility to support and share in the development of social and civic activities to enhance our quality of life.

When the Company elects to participate in a community project and utilize limited employee time and Company resources, management will communicate to affected employees in advance that the effort is a Company sponsored project. Be sure to separate your personal community activities from your work. Pursue community activities on your own time, with your own resources and as an individual private citizen, not as a representative of Wendy's. Do not claim to represent, or imply representation of, the Company to the public or in any public process or forum unless specifically requested to do so by management.


Employees are encouraged to participate in the political process and vote for the candidates or issues of their choice. Active political participation is the personal choice of each employee and should be conducted on your own time in your role as a private citizen and not on behalf of the Company.

It is strictly prohibited for individual employees to use the funds of Wendy's or its name, assets or property for political purposes or endorsement, whether directly or indirectly. It is also against Company policy to include, directly or indirectly, any political contribution on your expense account or in any other way that causes the Company to reimburse you for that expense. In general, the cost of fund-raising tickets for political functions is considered a political contribution. Therefore, including the cost of any such fund-raising dinner on an expense account, even if business is in fact discussed, is against Company policy and in some cases illegal.

From time to time, Wendy's may, within the limits of the law and through the Wendy's Political Action Committee, support a particular candidate, or support or criticize proposed legislation, regulations or rulings that might impact the business environment in which the Company operates. Our employees are welcome, though not obligated or expected, to participate in such activities.

The political process has become highly regulated, and anyone who has any question about what is or is not proper should consult with the Legal Department before agreeing to do anything that could be construed as involving Wendy's in any political activity at either the federal, state or local level in the United States or in any foreign country.

If anyone can provide any more information, like the actual text from a franchisee agreement, perhaps, I really think they oughtta, whether via comment here or on their own blog. (This goes DOUBLE for "The Wendy's Company," which was so entirely too aggressive when this story began, but has since folded like a cheap suit. If all Wendy's did was adhere to company policy in the interest of remaining neutral as a company and making everyone who works for, is a customer of, or otherwise deals with them feel welcome--a policy that the franchisee who put up the signs should've been aware of--they really, really, REALLY ought to say so, and rebut this nonsense about their opposing free speech. Flame off.)

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