The ads that made these false claims were misleading clickbait that attempted to entice readers to click or scroll through nearly 70 slides. We've detailed below why these kinds of ads and articles exist in the first place.
In December 2023, multiple online advertisements were displayed to users, including possibly on YouTube, that showed one or more photos of Chick-fil-A restaurant locations with the claim that the company would be closing down in 2024. The caption for one of the ads read, "They're Closing Doors in 2024. These Fast Food Restaurant Chains Are Closing The Doors In 2024."
Another ad with a picture of a Chick-fil-A restaurant read, "Restaurant Chains Closing. It's Time To Say Goodbye, These Restaurants Be Closing The Doors."
We found several other variations of similar ads that made the same claim about Chick-fil-A's supposed future plans. Some of the ads said said the company would be closing up shop in 2023.
All of these ads were false. It was not true that Chick-fil-A was going to be closing all of its locations, going bankrupt or going out of business for other reasons. An April 2023 report from QSR Magazine detailed the chicken sandwich company's strong financial earnings.
All of the ads led to a lengthy article on Reference.com with the headline, "These 53 Restaurant Chains Are on the Brink of Disappearing Entirely." In the article's page source code, we noted that the story was perhaps written during or before the year 2020 and was last republished in 2021. In other words, the article that was being advertised in December 2023 was two or more years old.
The article listed nearly 70 businesses, most of which appeared to be American brands. Under each business name were several paragraphs describing whether the companies would be closing some or all of its locations.
Nowhere in the nearly 70-slide article was Chick-fil-A mentioned even once. The ads with the photos of Chick-fil-A restaurant locations were false and misleading clickbait that may have originally been created to entice readers to scroll or click through the slides, all for nothing.
The reason why these kinds of ads and articles exist is usually something called advertising arbitrage. Advertising arbitrage is a strategy in which an advertiser hopes to make more money on ads displayed in a lengthy article than it would cost to display an initial clickbait ad meant to attract users to the article. In other words, instead of the ads being both attractive and potentially helpful to consumers, they instead mislead users from the start.
We reached out to Chick-fil-A's media relations team by email to ask if it had a statement to share regarding the false and misleading ads and will update this story if we receive a response.
Note: If readers would like to report any strange or misleading ads on Snopes, we invite you to contact us. Please include the full link of the website where the questionable ad led to so that we can attempt to investigate and potentially block any such ads.