Welcome to episode #27 of the Gay Business & Marketing Made Easy Podcast! This episode is going to look at Duck Dynasty, A&E and Cracker Barrel as a case study that you can learn from. I am going to frame up the whole conversation by breaking it down into 5 digestible parts that highlight the controversy, the different sides to the story and the immediate outcome for the show.
So here are today’s show notes, which are more lengthy than usual. Enjoy!
Listen to the episode by clicking the play button below.
Episode 27 – (1/23/14) – Duck Dynasty, A&E and Cracker Barrel: A Case Study
You’ll see now that I am using “Professional Lesbian” as an official title. I’ve jokingly called myself this for years, but after a recent experience at New Media Expo in Las Vegas at the beginning of this month I realized introducing myself as a professional lesbian and explaining that “I teach straight people how to market to gay people” really got a solid reaction.
The next webinar is on Feb. 19th at 1PM
My next webinar “Increasing your LGBT Market Share through Authentic Communications” is on Feb 19th at 1PM and you can RSVP by going to http://www.jenntgrace.com/webinar. It’s an hour long presentation with plenty of time for Q&A, so any questions you might have please feel free to bring them with you. Also if you are listening to this podcast episode in the future and it is after Feb 19 – fear not I hold webinars monthly, so still head on over to http://www.jenntgrace.com/webinar RSVP.
The best way to stay in touch is by joining the mailing list. You can do so by clicking here; http://jenntgrace.com/podcastlist
Duck Dynasty – The Facts – GQ Magazine – January 2014 edition
I am going to frame up the Duck Dynasty story in 5 parts.
- First I’ll recap the GQ Magazine article,
- then I will share what A&E did as a result of the article,
- I’ll outline the two sides of the story,
- and explain how Cracker Barrel plays into this,
- and finally, show what the immediate end result is for Duck Dynasty.
I suggest you read the whole GQ Magazine article which you can do so here; http://www.gq.com/entertainment/television/201401/duck-dynasty-phil-robertson?currentPage=1
Part 1: A recap of the GQ article
- First couple of paragraphs in he is quoting Genesis 9
- “Oh, and no sinners, too. So here’s where things get a bit uncomfortable. Phil calls himself a Bible-thumper, and holy shit, he thumps that Bible hard enough to ring the bell at a county-fair test of strength.”
- Out here in these woods, without any cameras around, Phil is free to say what he wants. Maybe a little too free. He’s got lots of thoughts on modern immorality, and there’s no stopping them from rushing out. Like this one:
- “It seems like, to me, a vagina—as a man—would be more desirable than a man’s anus. That’s just me. I’m just thinking: There’s more there! She’s got more to offer. I mean, come on, dudes! You know what I’m saying? But hey, sin: It’s not logical, my man. It’s just not logical.”
- The show—a reality sitcom showcasing the semiscripted high jinks of Phil, his brother “Uncle Si,” his four sons, Alan, Willie, Jase, and Jep, and the perpetually exasperated but always perfectly accessorized Robertson-family ladies—has become the biggest reality-TV hit in the history of cable television, reportedly earning the family a holy shit–worthy $200,000-an-episode paycheck.
- And then, of course, there is their faith, which plays no small role here. During the family’s initial negotiations about the show with A&E, Jase told me, “the three no-compromises were faith, betrayal of family members, and duck season.” That refusal to betray their faith or one another has been a staple of every media article about the Robertson family. It’s their elevator pitch, and it has made them into ideal Christian icons: beloved for staking out a bit of holy ground within the mostly secular, often downright sinful, pop culture of America.
- “We’re Bible-thumpers who just happened to end up on television,” he tells me. “You put in your article that the Robertson family really believes strongly that if the human race loved each other and they loved God, we would just be better off. We ought to just be repentant, turn to God, and let’s get on with it, and everything will turn around.”
- What, in your mind, is sinful?
- “Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men,” he says. Then he paraphrases Corinthians: “Don’t be deceived. Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers—they won’t inherit the kingdom of God. Don’t deceive yourself. It’s not right.”
- During Phil’s darkest days, in the early 1970s, he had to flee the state of Arkansas after he badly beat up a bar owner and the guy’s wife. Kay Robertson persuaded the bar owner not to press charges in exchange for most of the Robertsons’ life savings. (“A hefty price,” he notes in his memoir.) I ask Phil if he ever repented for that, as he wants America to repent—if he ever tracked down the bar owner and his wife to apologize for the assault. He shakes his head.
- As far as Phil is concerned, he was literally born again. Old Phil—the guy with the booze and the pills—died a long time ago, and New Phil sees no need to apologize for him: “We never, ever judge someone on who’s going to heaven, hell. That’s the Almighty’s job. We just love ’em, give ’em the good news about Jesus—whether they’re homosexuals, drunks, terrorists. We let God sort ’em out later, you see what I’m saying?”
Part 2: So what did A&E do after the GQ article aired?
- Suspended Phil Robertson indefinitely on December 18
- “We are extremely disappointed to have read Phil Robertson’s comments in GQ, which are based on his own personal beliefs and are not reflected in the series ‘Duck Dynasty’,” the network said in a statement.
- “His personal views in no way reflect those of A&E Networks, who have always been strong supporters and champions of the LGBT community. The network has placed Phil under hiatus from filming indefinitely.”
- On Dec. 27 – A&E announced that Phil will still be a part of the series “and since he didn’t miss any filming, his temporary suspension will have no effect on the upcoming fifth season.”
- A&E’s formal statement-
- As a global media content company, A+E Networks’ core values are centered around creativity, inclusion and mutual respect. We believe it is a privilege for our brands to be invited into people’s homes, and we operate with a strong sense of integrity and deep commitment to these principles. That is why we reacted so quickly and strongly to a recent interview with Phil Robertson. While Phil’s comments made in the interview reflect his personal views based on his own beliefs and his own personal journey, he and his family have publicly stated they regret the “coarse language” he used and the misinterpretation of his core beliefs based only on the article. He also made it clear he would “never incite or encourage hate.” We at A+E Networks expressed our disappointment with his statements in the article and reiterate that they are not views we hold. But Duck Dynasty is not a show about one man’s views. It resonates with a large audience because it is a show about family … a family that America has come to love. As you might have seen in many episodes, they come together to reflect and pray for unity, tolerance and forgiveness. These are three values that we at A+E Networks also feel strongly about. So after discussions with the Robertson family, as well as consulting with numerous advocacy groups, A&E has decided to resume filming Duck Dynasty later this spring with the entire Robertson family. We will also use this moment to launch a national public service campaign (PSA) promoting unity, tolerance and acceptance among all people, a message that supports our core values as a company and the values found in Duck Dynasty. These PSAs will air across our entire portfolio.
Part 3: So how does Cracker Barrel come into the mix?
- Source; http://insidetv.ew.com/2013/12/21/duck-dynasty-cracker-barrel/
- Friday, Dec 20 – Cracker Barrel decides to pull Duck Dynasty goods from their shelves
- One Virginia-based ABC affiliate reported that local Cracker Barrel employees were ordered to remove some Duck Dynasty products and slash prices on others that remained on the shelves by 50 percent. The restaurant chain defended its decision with a statement on its Facebook page:
- Cracker Barrel’s mission is Pleasing People. We operate within the ideals of fairness, mutual respect and equal treatment of all people. These ideals are the core of our corporate culture. We continue to offer Duck Commander products in our stores. We removed selected products which we were concerned might offend some of our guests while we evaluate the situation. We continually evaluate the products we offer and will continue to do so.
- Unsurprisingly, some Duck Dynasty people were less than pleased (the top comment on the company’s page: “Sad. Worried about offending gays? What about offending Christians???????????”). It’s not entirely clear if the merchandise involved were products from the A&E series or the Robertson family’s own Duck Commander line.
- Cracker Barrel might have inadvertently made the backlash stronger by trying to follow A&E’s half-measure example only excising the most “offensive” products (media outlets are presuming this means items carrying the likeness of Phil Robertson, who was suspended from the A&E reality show earlier this week after making offensive comments to GQ magazine). As one observer tweeted: “Either remove all or no #DuckDynasty products – Not taking a stand just pisses both sides off.”
- Less than 48 hours after Cracker Barrel announced plans to pull Duck Dynasty items off its shelves in the wake of cast member Phil Robertson’s anti-gay comments, the Southern country store and restaurant chain has reversed its decision.
- Cracker Barrel’s reversal of its former position was posted this morning to Facebook, following a flurry of negative responses from customers and fans who showed support to the patriarch of the “Duck Dynasty” family.
- “When we made the decision to remove and evaluate certain Duck Dynasty items, we offended many of our loyal customers. Our intent was to avoid offending, but that’s just what we’ve done,” the company wrote. “You flat out told us we were wrong. We listened.”
- “People weren’t shy. They wrote, called and took to social media,” company spokesman Jeff Eller told ABC News about the company’s decision to go back on its original pledge to ax “selected products” from its stores.
- The restaurant was the first major retailer to announce its stance on the Robertson scandal since his remarks went public.
- Cracker Barrel – flip flopped taking both sides. We already know they have anti-LGBT policies so its not a surprise there. A quick look at the Human Rights Campaign CEI – shows Cracker Barrel has a 45 out of 100 in terms of their LGBT equality in the workplace. You can see for yourself here; http://asp.hrc.org/issues/workplace/organization_profile.asp?organization_id=13412&search_id=1&search_type=Quick
Part 4: So who took sides –
- Source: http://www.deadline.com/2013/12/glaad-reacts-to-phil-robertson-duck-dynasty-return/
- North Carolina-based Faith Driven Consumer – Today’s decision by A&E to reinstate Phil Robertson to Duck Dynasty is in direct response to the powerful and engaged voices of millions of Faith Driven Consumers, as highlighted by more than 260,000 signers of the IStandWithPhil.com petition.
- “However, the question remains, has the Faith Driven Consumer community truly been heard?
- “Despite our celebration, we remain uncertain of A&E’s true intent. Today, in the network’s statement of their core values – centered on ‘creativity, inclusion, and mutual respect’ – Faith Driven Consumers are left wondering whether A&E considers us to be a part of America’s rich rainbow of diversity.
- “Do they also now embrace the biblically based values and worldview held by the Robertson family and millions of Faith Driven Consumers?
- “Did the network’s engagement and consultation with ‘numerous advocacy groups’ include Faith Driven Consumers? We eagerly anticipate A&E’s naming of those groups to ensure that our community was included.
- “Faith Driven Consumers will remain vigilant as we measure whether A&E’s actions reflect true tolerance, diversity, and mutual respect – including their equal embrace of our biblically based values and deeply held beliefs.
- GLAAD – Phil Robertson glaad-logo2should look African American and gay people in the eyes and hear about the hurtful impact of praising Jim Crow laws and comparing gay people to terrorists. If dialogue with Phil is not part of next steps then A&E has chosen profits over African American and gay people – especially its employees and viewers.
- As you can imagine they both take on the centuries old battle. Palin quoting bible versus and GLADD insisting an apology be issued.
Part 5: What’s the outcome for Duck Dynasty?
- Source: http://www.nydailynews.com/entertainment/tv-movies/duck-dynasty-season-5-premiere-suffers-drastic-drop-ratings-article-1.1583435
- According to the New York Daily News
- Duck Dynasty’s season 5 premier was last week on Jan. 15th
- 8.5 million people tuned in to view the show which is a steep drop from the 12 million viewers from the season 5 premier
- The other startling fact is that only 4.2 million viewers in the highly sought-after demographic of 18-49 years old watched which is a 33% decline.
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AUDIO TITLE: Episode #27 – Duck Dynasty, A&E, Cracker Barrel
Jenn T Grace:
You are listening to the Gay Business and Marketing Made Easy Podcast, Episode 27.
Welcome to the Gay Business and Marketing Made Easy Podcast where you’ll learn how to do business with and market to the LGBT community in an authentic and transparent way. We’re talking about the $790 billion lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender community. We’ll help you grow your business, gain market share and impact your bottom line. And now your host – she’s an entrepreneur, a marketing maven and an advocate for the LGBT business community. Jenn, with two N’s, T. Grace.
Jenn T Grace:
Hello and welcome to episode number 27 of the Gay Business and Marketing Made Easy Podcast. I am your host, Jenn Grace, and this is the second episode of 2014. I’m very excited to have the New Year here and talk with you, and today I want to do a case study with you in regards to Duck Dynasty, and all of the kerfuffle that has been unfolding over the last six weeks or so. So I’m really looking forward to sharing that whole case study with you, but before we get into that I want to talk about a couple of things as I usually do before we hop into the meat of the episode. And the first thing that I want to share with you is that I had a recent epiphany. And I went to the New Media Expo, which last episode you heard the pretty poor intro quality because I was actually recording it from the expo in Las Vegas. But while I was in Las Vegas I was with a group of bloggers and podcasters and people who are doing web series via YouTube, and all sorts of different types of media outlets. And it was an environment that I am not 100% accustomed to being in. And when I say that, when I go to conferences I’m usually at diversity conferences, I’m at LGBT conferences, I’m at anything even women-related conferences; I’m not- basically the conferences that I attend I’m not always the minority. So this one was really interesting because it was- I want to say it was about 1,500 people, I could be completely wrong with that. But it was somewhere around 1,500 I thought. And I was by far definitely a minority in terms of being an LGBT person. But to me that does not matter in any way, shape or form, but when I’m not a minority, when I’m telling somebody what I do, I can frame up the conversation in a more meaty type of way, talking about how I educate people on authentic communications, around marketing to the LGBT community, and putting in a whole bunch of words that are actually unnecessary when I think about it now. But when I was at New Media Expo it was really interesting because when I would say ‘LGBT,’ I realized that people didn’t know what that meant. And what I kept finding is that I kept saying a similar variation of a phrase over and over again. And what I’ve realized since is that is now my new tagline, and what I’m just going to kind of put the flag in the sand over, because it’s really what gets the message across the most effectively. And I jokingly call myself a professional lesbian, and I’ve done it on this podcast a million times I’m sure, but basically I am a professional lesbian, I teach straight people how to market to gay people, and that’s it. Just those simple words, and it was amazing the types of reactions and responses I was getting from people that I was networking with at this conference, because I would just say, “I teach straight people how to market with gay people,” and immediately they’d be like, “Oh I have the perfect person you have to talk to,” and then I had this happen to a couple people where they literally grabbed me by the arm and were like, “You have to go talk to so-and-so,” and would drag me there and make the personal introduction. Had I opted to have the more meaty verbose way of kind of sugar coating what I do, I don’t know that I would have gotten that immediate like- that immediate just kind of like it clicks. Like you could see like the lightbulb turn on for people.
So it was really, really exciting that this is what was happening over and over again. So in future things that you’ll see from me, you’re probably going to see the whole, ‘I teach straight people how to market to gay people,’ and I really do mean the entire LGBT community, but more often than not people don’t know what LGBT stands for, so kind of going with my original premise of why I named this podcast The Gay Business and Marketing Made Easy Podcast, was because a lot of people don’t know LGBT.
So I wanted to share that with you because I thought it was very interesting, very insightful, it was kind of like a good testing ground for trying out different phrases and expressions and all that kind of great stuff. So it worked as I intended it to, so I’m pretty happy with that, so you’ll definitely start seeing that more and more. So I just wanted to throw that out.
A few things to announce…
And one of the things that I want to announce, and I do this at the top of almost every single podcast, and if I don’t I should be, is the next webinar is on February 19th at 1:00 PM Eastern Time. And you can RSVP for the webinar at www.JennTGrace.com/webinars. So the title of the webinar is Increasing Your LGBT Market Share Through Authentic Communications. So this is a webinar that I do on an ongoing basis, I am constantly revising the content and adding new pieces of information into it, and that webinar is actually- the one I did in January is actually the reason why I am talking about Duck Dynasty in particular in this week’s podcast. So the webinars are great because I get to hear new questions from people and I can also figure out what people want to know more of, and Duck Dynasty happened to be one of those things. So today we’re going to spend an entire episode talking about the Duck Dynasty kerfuffle, and I love that word which is why I keep using it.
So I definitely recommend checking out the next webinar on February 19th, and if you’re listening to this and we are past February 19th, fear not you can go to that same web link which is www.JennTGrace.com/webinars and you can RSVP for the one that is the closest to the time frame that you are listening to this in, because I do have them every single month.
So the other thing that I would like to do is invite you to join my mailing list so you can keep up to date with what is going on, and the mailing list is at www.JennTGrace.com/podcastlist and that’s one word – podcastlist. And yeah, you can stay tuned with what I have going on. I email once a month or so, it’s actually usually every 23 days to be exact, so I try not to overwhelm you too much but I really just want to bring you the best content that I have, that I think can help you improve your business and improve what you’re doing for your LGBT marketing efforts.
So that’s essentially all I have for you today in terms of just a couple of announcements to start. I want to get into the meat of the episode which is around the Duck Dynasty case study. So I want to frame up this entire conversation with you around five specific parts.
For today’s episode…
So the first area I want to go into with you is first that I’ll be recapping the infamous GQ magazine article, which will provide you with information as to what was actually said in the article. And then I will share with you what A&E, the cable network, did as a result of this article. I will explain how Cracker Barrel plays into all of this. Then I’m going to outline the two different sides of the story as I see them. And then I want to show you the immediate end result that has happened already for Duck Dynasty, and what possibly could be coming in the future. So for those of you who are unfamiliar with all of what has happened with Duck Dynasty, I want to just give you a recap first and foremost, because today I want this to be a case study. And I want you to walk away with a better understanding of how your poor communications in your business will impact the bottom line of your business. And this is something that I talk about on a very regular basis, and it just so happens that the news and the media keeps giving me very good gems like this particular example that I can then use to help educate you on how you could do things differently or do things better.
So in the beginning part of the episode I had mentioned to you that I do webinars on a regular basis, and in the most recent webinar which was in January, I covered this in a little bit of detail but I had a lot of people asking me questions in asking for more details around this whole Duck Dynasty thing. So which it was basically the impetus for why I decided to dedicate an entire episode to covering this story. And if you pay attention to the news in any way, you’ll know that Duck Dynasty is A&E’s- it’s on the A&E network, and they have the largest audience out of any reality show. So they are their number one producing show, number one revenue generating show undoubtedly on the A&E network. And the Duck Dynasty premise is basically a bunch of Louisiana rednecks- and that’s their words, not necessarily mine, and it just kind of follows their life, it follows the whole Robertson family. And Phil Robertson is essentially the man under fire currently.
Here’s what happened…
So here is what happened. We have GQ magazine who decided to run a- some sort of feature story on Phil Robertson, the patriarch of the Duck Dynasty family. And the gentleman who wrote the GQ magazine article, the article itself came out sometime in the middle of December and it was for the January edition. So the whole article- and I highly recommend you check out the entire article, because it does have a lot of good information, a lot of back story, I feel like it paints a really good picture of where the author was coming from in writing this article. So I will include a link to it in the show notes here so that way you can go have a read yourself so that way you have all of the facts. But what I want to do is pull out some of the key pieces of information that I feel were in that GQ article to help paint the picture, especially for those of you who are unfamiliar with everything that happened.
Discussing the GQ article…
So let’s see. So like I said we’re going to frame it up in five parts, so this is part one. So here’s a recap of what the GQ magazine article said. So Phil Robertson is a self-proclaimed redneck, white trash, bible thumper from the swamps of Louisiana. And you can find a handful of places where he’s actually referred to himself in those exact words. So this is his view of himself, it’s what basically A&E has been portraying him to appear like as well on their show. So the person who was writing the GQ magazine article spent a couple of days I’m guessing down with Phil and his family completely behind the scenes with the cameras off, just the two of them talking. And there were a lot of things that this article went into, and of course the- I’m going to highlight the few key things that were basically pulled out, and then the media kind of ran wild with them. And I’m going to do my very best to be bipartisan about this entire thing as I’m sharing the information with you, and then when we get to the end I’ll actually share with you my personal opinion. So I’m going to try to keep my opinion out of it as I’m just delivering to you the information that I think is going to help you understand this entire scenario, what happened, and how it all played out.
So in the first couple of paragraphs of this article, which is about three pages long if you’re reading it online. And right out of the gate, Phil is quoting bible verses, he’s quoting a passage from Genesis 9. So the author’s actual words are in one of the areas where he’s calling himself a bible thumper is, “Phil calls himself a bible thumper, and holy shit, he thumps that bible hard enough to ring the bell at the county fair test of strength.” So he goes on to say that, “Out here in these woods without any cameras around, Phil is free to say what he wants, and maybe a little bit too free. He’s got lots of thoughts on modern immorality and there’s no stopping them from rushing out.” So the author continues to say, “Out here in these woods without any cameras around, Phil is free to say what he wants, maybe a little too free. He’s got lots of thoughts on modern immorality and there’s no stopping them from rushing out. Like this one,” and this is the one that is widely quoted in the media. “It seems like to me a vagina as a man would be more desirable than a man’s anus, that’s just me. I’m just thinking there’s more there, she’s got more to offer. I mean come on dudes, you know what I’m saying. But hey, sin, it’s not logical my man, it’s just not logical.”
So this is one of the- one of two quotes that Phil has been quoted as saying in widely spread media. So in this particular passage, he is basically stating or equating men wanting to be with men with being sin and sin not being logical. So that’s his first quote.
And then as you may or may not know, this show is a reality sitcom, and it’s semi-scripted and that’s actually something that A&E has said. So the show is a high producing show for the A&E network, and the family actually gets about $200,000 per episode for a paycheck. So I want to point out the money piece to show that this family is making a lot of money with this scripted reality show, and I want you to be aware that their faith does not play a small role in the show in any way; it’s very much a prominent piece of the show. So during the initial negotiations around A&E, they had three no compromises on which were around their faith, the betrayal of their family members, and duck season. So there are no compromise ways around their refusal to betray their faith has been very much at the center of their show. So essentially the show has become an ideal show that highlights Christian values. And it’s very much a beloved show by many, many people on the right because it really does focus around so many different Christian beliefs.
Tides began to change within the article…
So here is where things get interesting in the article, because the- so Phil specifically says to the author, “We’re bible thumpers who just happened to end up on television. You put that in your article that the Robertson family really believes strongly that if the human race loved each other and they loved God, we would just be better off. We ought to just repent, turn to God, and let’s get on with it and everything will turn around.” So that was basically just a statement by Phil to which the author responded with, “What in your mind is sinful?” And then here is the next quote from Phil that is widely a part of this whole controversy. So in response to the question, “What in your mind is sinful?” Phil states, “Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman, and that woman, and that woman, and those men,” he says. Then he paraphrases Corinthians, “Don’t be deceived; neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers. They won’t inherit the kingdom of God. Don’t deceive yourself, it’s not right.”
So that is Phil’s summation of Corinthians which is a bible passage, and he is equating homosexual behavior to all of these other things. So you can see that being gay is really just one of many of his issues that he feels are reasons why they won’t inherit the kingdom of God. So again, this is Phil who is a southern Louisiana guy who’s a bible thumper, and he is preaching the word of God to this particular author who’s writing this story about him.
So the article shares a little bit about Phil’s past and how he used to be heavy into drinking and doing drugs and getting into fights, and he had one particular instance that turned his life completely around and at that moment he was literally born again. So Phil basically had one of those come to Jesus moments and ever since that time in the early 1970’s he has been dedicated to preaching the word of God, being a bible thumper, really being out there and preaching.
So then Phil says, “We never, ever judge someone on who’s going to heaven or hell, that’s the Almighty’s job. Just love them, give them the good news about Jesus whether they’re homosexuals, drunks, terrorists; we let God sort them out later, you see what I’m saying.”
So in addition to Phil’s colorful commentary about his views on the bible, he does quote and paraphrase different passages from the bible. He also is just kind of depicted as your rough and tumble down south guy who is just being candid and being honest. Because let’s remember at this moment that there are no cameras on him, so he is used to having- I think I read in one of the articles while I was researching this, that I think they said that four days out of the week they have cameras on them and they’re doing the show. So this is just Phil and this author kind of having a day out together, going through the woods, just having conversations. So in this particular instance I think Phil was probably being his absolute true self in terms of not censoring himself and just being who he really is naturally and not maybe covering- not necessarily covering things up, but maybe not shielding his beliefs moreso than he would on TV. Because of course he could say things and then A&E could just edit them out for the sake of not having things be controversial perhaps. So this is just Phil down in home, down in nature, having a conversation with a reporter that’s highlighting Phil as a person as a whole.
So this author clearly got a couple of gems that really, really don’t put Phil in a positive light as it relates to the media.
What did A&E do as a result of this GQ article?
So now that I have framed up just kind of a recap of the GQ magazine article, I want to share the part two of this which is what did A&E do as a result of this GQ article coming out? So the GQ article came out, I want to say it was sometime around December 15th and A&E specifically stated in a network statement, “We are extremely disappointed to have had read Phil Robertson’s comments in GQ which are based on his own personal beliefs, and not reflected in the series Duck Dynasty. His personal views in no way reflect those of A&E network’s who have always been strong supporters and champions of the LGBT community. The network has placed Phil under a hiatus from filming indefinitely.”
So that was on December 18th. So on December 27th, just a short nine days later, A&E announced that Phil will be still a part of the series, and since he didn’t miss any filming his temporary suspension will have no effect on the upcoming fifth season. So A&E put out a formal statement which I will read because I feel like there’s some key takeaways in here. So their formal statement states, “As a global media content company, A&E network’s core values are centered around creativity, inclusion and mutual respect. We believe it is a privilege for our brands to be invited into people’s homes, and we operate with a strong sense of integrity and deep commitment to these principles. That is why we reacted so quickly and strongly to a recent interview with Phil Robertson. While Phil’s comments made in the interview reflect his personal views based on his own beliefs and his own personal journey, he and his family have publicly stated that they regret the course language he used and the misrepresentation of his core beliefs based only on the article. He also made it clear that he would never insight or encourage hate. We at the A&E networks expressed our disappointment with his statements in the article and reiterate that they are not views we hold. But Duck Dynasty is not a show about one man’s views, it resonates with a large audience because it’s a show about family; a family that America has come to love. As you might have seen in many episodes, they come together to reflect and pray for unity, tolerance and forgiveness. These are three values that we at A&T networks feel strongly about. So after discussions with the Robertson family, as well as consulting with numerous advocacy groups, A&E has decided to resume filming Duck Dynasty later this spring with the entire Robertson family. We will also use this moment to launch a national public service campaign promoting unity, tolerance and acceptance among all people. A message that supports our core values as a company and the values found in Duck Dynasty. These PSAs will air across our entire portfolio.”
So that was the statement that A&E put out after- on December 27th after they had suspended him on December 18th. So in a short nine day period of time, the internet blew up. And you could see that there were clearly defined sides. Sides in which people took over whether they were for Duck Dynasty or against Duck Dynasty.
A war ensued…
So the two sides that really emerged were basically the pro-LGBT groups, specifically GLAAD, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation. They were the most vocal, and they actually came out with a statement saying, “Phil Robertson should look African American and gay people in the eyes and hear about the hurtful impact of praising Jim Crow Laws and comparing gay people to terrorists. A dialogue with Phil is not part of next steps that A&E has chosen profits over African American and gay people, especially its employees and viewers.”
So you can tell in this particular statement that GLAAD made, that they’re actually talking more about- in addition to what he said about LGBT people, but also the insinuations that he was making about African American people which I didn’t even get into in this particular podcast. So again I highly recommend going back to that article and reading the entire thing because you can see the insults that he threw at the African American community as well. But since I’m not an expert on that area, I’m not even going to attempt to get into that. So I will stick with the LGBT issues that I am more familiar with. So that was- that’s GLAAD’s statement and GLAAD’s position on it that they were basically saying that A&E is choosing profits over people.
And then we have the other side, which is- which can be quoted from a North Carolina based faith-driven consumer. And they are the ones that put together an online petition that was at www.IStandWithPhil.com, and it was basically encouraging faith-based consumers to sign the petition to say that they stand their ground and they stand with Phil’s views on what he said. So they ended up getting about 260,000 signers of the petition, so someone from the faith-driven consumer put out a statement that says, “However the question remains, has the faith-driven consumer community truly been hurt? Despite our celebration we remain uncertain of A&E’s true intent. Today in network statements of their core values, centered on creativity, inclusion and mutual respect, faith-driven consumers are left wondering whether A&E considers us to be a part of America’s rich rainbow of diversity? Do they also now embrace the biblically-based values and worldwide view held by the Robertson family and millions of faith-driven consumers? Did the network’s engagement in consultation with numerous advocacy groups include faith-driven consumers? We eagerly anticipate A&E’s naming of those groups to ensure that our community was included. Faith-driven consumers will remain vigilant as we measure whether A&E’s actions reflect true tolerance, diversity and mutual respect, including their equal embrace of our biblically-based values and deeply held beliefs.”
So those are just two sides that are very easily able to be plucked to position against one another. So you have the faith-based side, and you have the pro-LGBT side, and no matter what the argument seems to be in the media, the two of them very rarely actually intersect together in any type of productive fashion. So in this instance we have these two very different groups with very different opinions coming together, putting out a statement in regards to what they would like A&E to do. So like I said I’m trying to give you all of the information first and then I will share with you my take on it when we are done. Hopefully I’ve done a good job at being bipartisan, however I’m not entirely sure if I have or not, but you tell me in the show notes, and you know on the blog and social media, et cetera.
How Cracker Barrel comes into play…
But now I want to talk about how Cracker Barrel comes into all of this. Now I would like to take a short hiatus in the middle of this episode here to hear from one of the sponsors of this podcast, from www.MentalCompass.com. Take it away Mike.
Alright, thank you Mike for giving us some great information. As I say in every episode, if you haven’t checked them out, I highly recommend it, they have some great information on their podcast.
So now let’s just dive back into where we were. So Cracker Barrel is a restaurant chain that also has a country store, and they are one of the stores- I think I saw an article in one of the places I was reading to research this, that Duck Dynasty products can be found in Walmart, Sears and Cracker Barrel. I don’t know if there are other stores that can also- their stuff can also be found in, but I saw specifically those three. So Cracker Barrel is one of them at the very least who has Duck Dynasty products. So keeping in mind that the GQ magazine article came out somewhere around December 15th, and on Friday, December 20th, Cracker Barrel decides that they’re going to pull Duck Dynasty goods from their shelves. But they’re not going to pull all of them, they’re just going to pull some of them. So a Virginia-based ABC affiliate reported that a local Cracker Barrel employee was ordered to remove some Duck Dynasty products and slash products on others, that remained on the shelves by 50%. The restaurant chain defended its decision with a statement on its Facebook page. And now I will read to you what their statement says.
So on their Facebook page it said, “Cracker Barrel’s mission is pleasing people. We operate with the ideals of fairness, mutual respect and equal treatment of all people. These ideals are the core of our corporate culture. We continue to offer Duck Commander products in our stores. We removed selected products which we were concerned might offend some of our guests while we evaluate the situation. We continually evaluate products we offer, and will continue to do so.”
So Cracker Barrel puts out this statement on Facebook, and to no surprise there are people who are fans of the Duck Dynasty show who are commenting on the page. And one of them actually says, and this is quoted, “Sad. Worried about offending gays? What about offending Christians?” So this is just one of many quotes that somehow with that same type of message, and it wasn’t entirely clear if the merchandise they decided to take off the shelves were items that had Phil himself, or if it were other lines of items, it wasn’t really entirely clear on what they decided to take off the shelves.
So Cracker Barrel essentially inadvertently made the backlash to what they were doing even stronger by only doing it basically half-assed. So there were a handful of people on social media and commenting about- I shouldn’t even say handful, there were tons of people putting in their comments about this. And one observer tweeted, “Either remove all or no Duck Dynasty products. Not taking a stand just pisses off both sides.”
So it was a total cluster because Cracker Barrel was very much on the fence about what they were doing. So less than 48 hours after Cracker Barrel decided they were going to pull items off the shelves, they decided to reverse their decision. So they reversed their decision, they posted another thing on Facebook and it said, “When we made the decision to remove and evaluate certain Duck Dynasty items, we offended many of our loyal customers. Our intent was to avoid offending, but that’s just what we’ve done. You flat out told us we were wrong, and we listened.” And that quote came out 48 hours later. So one day Cracker Barrel decides they were going to take a stand and they’re not going to put Duck Dynasty items on their shelves, and then 48 hours later they’ve succumbed to pressure and now they’re putting them back on the shelves.
So in essence they’ve pissed off both sides if we go back to the earlier comment about the different sides. So you have the faith-driven consumers and you have the pro-LGBT equality folks, and now you’ve pissed off both of them because you were trying to please the pro-LGBT equality by taking a stand and taking them down. But then your faith-based consumers really kind of came at you hard, and you realized, ‘Oh shit now I have to please both, so now I’m going to put them back.’ So essentially you’ve pissed off both sides.
So Cracker Barrel completely flip-flopped but honestly, in my humble opinion- this is where we’ll start getting into some opinions, is I’m not surprised by Cracker Barrel flipping in any way, shape or form. So if you’ve listened to this podcast before, you have heard me talk about the Human Rights Campaign Corporate Equality Index. And this index essentially ranks Fortune 1000 companies in addition to some others, and it rates them on their LGBT workplace equality, their involvement in the community, they types of policies they have for employees; a whole host of things. And in the most recent Corporate Equality Index, you can see that Cracker Barrel has a 45 out of 100 in terms of LGBT equality.
They have notoriously been bad for LGBT business for many, many years. I can actually recall the last time I had any type of interaction at Cracker Barrel, and that was in 1998. So to me, not going to Cracker Barrel- or going to Cracker Barrel is not on my list of things to do in any way, shape or form, because I know that they’re bad for their LGBT employees, they’re bad for business.
So I don’t go there, so to me to see Cracker Barrel flip-flop on sides like this, it doesn’t surprise me that they would side in favor of the faith-driven consumer because a lot of what you hear about Cracker Barrel is based around faith. So if we look at other examples like Chick-Fil-A and there’s a really conservative Christian CEO at the helm of Chick-Fil-A who’s made some disparaging comments about the LGBT community. And the LGBT community essentially boycotts Chick-Fil-A. So this happened- it was probably in I want to say early 2013, yeah it was probably early 2013 that there was a whole bunch of chaos and controversy over Chick-Fil-A specifically. But previous to that we all kind of knew Chick-Fil-A was bad for LGBT people anyway, that just kind of reconfirmed our stance.
So I would say that this whole Cracker Barrel thing, it just reconfirms my opinion of what I expect from Cracker Barrel, which is I don’t expect them to be pro-LGBT. It’s just- it’s not what I expect, and I’m not surprised.
So at the same time, if we look at this from how this could play out in your particular business. So if you were involved in this whole controversy, and you had two very opposing sides. You had a very faith-based consumer side of your business, and you had a pro-LGBT side to your business, it may be a very hard line to walk in pleasing both sides of those constituents. And I feel like it may be a little bit odd to find a company that caters to those two particular niches, and does both of them really well. So I’m not saying that it’s not possible, but I can’t imagine it would be easy for somebody to try to toe the line. What I would expect, and what I have seen, is that there’s a lot of companies out there that are very- and I’m talking about small businesses, not necessarily corporations, that are very faith-based but are also pro-LGBT. So that does exist, it’s just not what you see highlighted in the media because the media likes to sensationalize stories, so they want to find the two most extreme sides possible and pit them against each other. They don’t want to find those areas where you have companies and you have LGBT people who are Christian faith, which there’s many of them out there. So that doesn’t make for a good news story when people are living in harmony, does it? So I think this is a good example of basically pitting the two sides against each other.
The outcome for Duck Dynasty..
And I want to share with you what the outcome of all of this is for Duck Dynasty in particular. So season five, which is the one that premiered just last week on January 15th, it was expected to have ratings that far exceeded the season four premier. And I’ll have you know that the season five premier had 8.5 million people tune in to watch the show, which is a significant drop from the 12 million viewers from the season four premier. So right out of the gate we can see that this whole controversy has had an actual bottom line revenue driving impact on A&E network, on the Duck Dynasty Empire. You can see that the numbers don’t lie. And one of the other startling facts that I found is that only 4.2 million viewers from the highly sought after demographic which is traditionally the 18-49 year olds, watched the premier which is a 33% decline from season four.
So the outcome, clearly they still have 8.5 million people watching them, they’re not hurting. But at the same time, it dropped from 12 million. So there’s a significant impact on the amount of people, and specifically that target demographic that they’re looking for, who opted not to watch the show based on the controversy. So as I mentioned before, you have the two sides of things; you have the fact that Duck Dynasty probably has a really core base of Christian viewers, and faith-based consumers. And they may or may not have had a loyal following of LGBT folks. But my guess is that many LGBT folks who may have been watching the show have turned their backs on it based on his views. And you know I had- like I mentioned at the top of this episode is that I had seen the show maybe three times, and again it was just late night flipping through the channels. But I know that I’m not going to give my time to the show again, even if I am just flipping through the channels. Like there’s nothing of it that interests me. There’s plenty of other high quality programming that I can find on the many, many other cable networks that probably aligns with my values and views a little bit better.
Here’s some takeaways..
So here’s some takeaways from this, and here’s just kind of my general opinion on the entire thing. You know while this was all happening, I was paying very close attention to Twitter conversations, to Facebook conversations, and just what was happening on social media, watching people’s YouTube videos they were putting up, reading people’s blogs about it, and I very intentionally stayed mums the word on the entire thing. So as you may have noticed by now, my opinion and views are a lot of times very, very middle of the road and not in- I don’t think to be a bad way, but to be more fair to both sides of every story, and to kind of be the devil’s advocate. Because what I find is that oftentimes the media is going to grab a sensational headline and they’re going to run with it, and the average consumer in my opinion doesn’t take the time to read all of the story, to read all of the facts, to come to their own conclusion, they’re just going to see what Upworthy posts are on Facebook about how Duck Dynasty hates the gays, and they’re just going to share that with their friends, they’re going to read- they’re going to watch or read the one minute video or the couple paragraphs about what Upworthy has to say about the situation. But they’re not going to go back and see all of the other pieces of this puzzle, which is why it was so important for me to bring to you all of the facts that I could find, and it took me about two hours to gather all of this information. And I don’t normally take two hours to prepare podcasts. But I wanted to make sure that I was bringing you all of the different sides of the story. And I’m not going to push my opinion or views on your, nor would I expect you to push your opinion or views on me. I know for a fact that my neutral position on this whole thing is probably going to piss off a couple of people, and I’m okay with that because to me it’s a matter of being receptive of other people’s thoughts and views. So I have never been one who is highly religious, it’s just never been the way I am. But at the same time, I can respect other people’s religious views. And while I don’t agree that all of the different- the Genesis, the Corinthians, all of the different things that Phil was quoting as part of the bible, I don’t agree with what he said, nor do I agree that I think that’s the interpretation of what the bible was saying. But at the end of the day, that’s his- that’s on him, and that’s not on me. That is what he feels, what he believes, and whether he’s hiding behind the bible or not, that’s his prerogative, it’s not mine. I’m a consumer, you’re a consumer, I can take my beliefs and choose to tune him out. So to me it makes no sense to be arguing with people and fighting with people on social media about this entire scandal when really by doing all of those things, you’re just feeding into the machine more. To me I would rather take a different approach to it and not engage and not get into arguments with people from the maybe on the right who are social conservatives who are conservatives in general. Me arguing with them is not going to do any good. They have their beliefs, I have my beliefs, the two of them do not match and they probably never will. So to me it doesn’t make any sense to have that argument with people. I would rather come to you with the facts that I could find, the information that I could find, and let you draw your own conclusions.
My conclusions from this entire thing are number one, that I will not be watching Duck Dynasty on A&E. Number two I will continue to not be going to Cracker Barrel. And number three I will be very optimistically watching what happens to the ratings going forward for Duck Dynasty. Something to me from a marketing perspective, that I’ll be curious to see what happens. But not curious enough to actually watch the show.
So that’s basically my opinion on the whole thing, I don’t know what your opinion is but I’m really curious to know. So if you want to leave me a message there’s a leave a voicemail button on my website, or if you want to leave a blog note- a blog comment on my page, or if you want to leave a note on Facebook, Twitter; wherever you want to do it, I would love to know your opinion. And I’m sure there’s going to be a mixed range of emotions around this, a mixed range of opinions around this, but I think that A&E is taking a good step in this. So I think that A&E is trying to take the highest road that they can with this whole thing because at the end of the day they’re a business and they’re in the business to make money, so they want to find some sort of compromise and they did announce that they were going to put together a public service campaign that promotes unity, tolerance and acceptance among all people. Because that’s something that’s a core value to them as a business, and how they feel is a core value to Duck Dynasty. So I’ll be really curious to see what those PSAs start to look like, because at the end of the day if something positive can come about all of this kerfuffle, is maybe the PSA or maybe just this entire thing happening can raise the consciousness of consumers to realize that people do have opinions, people have extreme opinions. They may not be what your opinion is, but there is no reason why we should be hating each other and choosing one side over another. There’s got to be a way that we as a group of people can come together in some sort of respecting one another fashion, even if we disagree on fundamental things like being gay.
So I’m hoping that perhaps something good can come of this, I’m actually pretty certain that something good can come out of this, it just may be awhile before we see that. And if you remember looking back to episode 19 that I did, I talked about what happened with Barilla pasta, and when the CEO made some disparaging comments about gay people, how the media reacted, how- basically what we just did here today with Duck Dynasty, I’ve already done with Barilla pasta. And one of the things that because that episode came out in October sometime, one of the things that came out of Barilla is the fact that they put together a diversity and inclusion campaign around being more inclusive of all families.
So to me that’s a success that came out of a really shitty incident of him being homophobic, is now that employees of Barilla pasta are now going to get the benefit of being in a different atmosphere and a different environment because the company is now spear-heading initiatives around diversity and inclusion.
So it may take a while before it actually benefits the employee, but it’s just something that Barilla has made publicly known that they’re working towards. So to me it’s taking a bad situation and it’s coming out positive. So that’s basically my take on it. I’m hoping something positive comes of Duck Dynasty. When I see whatever that might be, I will certainly update you here on the podcast and on the blog. But for now at the very least, you can see the numbers in dollars- and not necessarily dollars and cents, but you can see the numbers that the viewership dropped from 12 million to 8.5. So clearly there is some sort of revenue driving impact that is happening for A&E. So it just makes you realize that companies have to be very conscious of what positions they take on what things, how they can please two different types of consumers, and all that kind of stuff. It’s not an easy road, and if you’re marketing to the LGBT community, it’s not always an easy road either. So you need to just be- just be really firm in what your convictions are, be really firm with where you stand, and be unapologetic about it. And I say this on my webinar which as I said in the beginning of this episode, the next one is on February 19th, so I highly recommend you check it out. But basically stand your ground, just be firm on what you believe as a company, and don’t try to please everybody. If you want to focus on marketing to faith-based consumers, then by all means do that. But understand if that is what your current niche is, marketing to the LGBT community is probably going to have some sort of backlash as it relates to your other consumers, unless you happen to be a person that can talk to both sides and really be the glue that can bring these two communities together which very much- I feel like need to come together on some level. And like I said before, there’s many instances where this unity does happen, and there’s many instances where it doesn’t happen. So it’s up to you as the business owner to decide where you’re going to go with that.
And I hope that this has been informative, I- like I said I’m really curious to hear what your thoughts are, and that’s all I have for this episode, number 27 of the podcast.
And finally I want to share some information from the newest sponsors of this podcast, which is Teazled, which is the LGBT greeting card company that I happen to love and adore. They’re new podcast sponsors, and I would love for you to take a moment to just go check out their website. You can get to their website easily through mine, which is www.JennTGrace.com/cards. And essentially Teazled can offer customized business-to-business and business-to-consumer greeting cards. They can custom make photos, sentiments, put your logo, your branding on them. All with the overarching intent to help promote LGBT in the greeting card industry. Because if you look around, if you’re trying to find a same-sex wedding card for example for somebody that you know that’s getting married, there’s not a lot of options out there. So you can check out Teazled and they have tons of options, they are LGBT-owned, and they are a company that is really out to provide more traditional options for the LGBT family. So take a moment, check them out, I’m sure you will find something that you like, and of course if they ask let them know that I sent you.
I will look forward to hearing from you and being back here in episode 28. I hope you have a wonderful rest of January, and your 2014 is off to a great start. We’ll talk soon, thanks.