The recent Duck Dynasty brouhaha is yet another example of PR ‘gurus’ missing the larger, business picture and focusing, instead, on image and reputation.
David E. Johnson’s blog is a perfect case in point.
Johnson argues that Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson and A&E, the cable network that airs Robinson’s reality show, are deftly handling his hateful comments. He believes the pro Christian, anti-gay, comments resonate well with the show’s core viewers. Indeed, Johnson believes the media hype will actually attract new viewers.
I disagree. In fact, to borrow a broadcasting expression, I see the Duck Dynasty episode as little more than a Chick-fil-A re-run.
If you recall, the fast food chain’s president caused an uproar a few years back by making similar hate-filled comments (and citing the bible as the definitive source on such issues). In the immediate aftermath, Chick-fil-A experienced a series of highly publicized boycotts by pro-Gay groups and alienated countless employees and prospective customers.
We live in a highly polarized society, with fundamentalist religion serving as the jet fuel stimulating hateful words and deeds.
We’re also hamstrung by reactionary ‘leaders’ who pour gasoline on an already raging inferno by adding such inane comments as the one from Sarah Palin. The former Alaska governor, vice presidential candidate and self-proclaimed hockey mom defended Robertson’s words by posting this on her Facebook page: ‘Free speech is an endangered species. Those intolerants hatin’ and taking on the Duck Dynasty patriarch for voicing his personal opinion are taking on all of us.’ And, to think this woman could have been a heartbeat away from the presidency. Yikes!
Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, Texas Senator Ted Cruz and the rabble-rousing talk show host, Geraldo Rivera, have made similar statements defending Robertson.
America needs to stop hating, and start cooperatin’, as Ms. Palin might say.
American business executives need to stay focused on the bottom line, and keep their personal religious views out of the discussion.
And, PR bloggers need to step back and realize that hate-mongering is NOT an image and reputation strategy. It’s a devisive, shameless short-term move that will only wreak long-term brand damage.
Happily, Duck Dynasty isn’t Bravo’s problem. I see the DD patriarch is also advocating that men marry girls when they are 15 or 16 years of age. He’s quite the class act.
So, I heard. Sadly, ignorance seems to be on the rise wherever one turns, Donna. This is shameful episode for A&E. Pun intended.
Agree. We know what $otivates those executives.I wonder whether openly gay Bravo TV head Andy Cohen would hang tough on “Duck Dynasty” if it were on his network?
Happy New Year everyone.
FYI – They gave him back his job and the show goes on. Pathetic.
A&E had to make a business decision that was prompted by the ill-conceived thoughts of Mr. Robertson. Had he kept his personal views to himself, there would be no Duck Dynasty brouhaha. A&E’s decision was based on perceived advertiser and viewer outrage (although I agree with you the vast amount of Duck Dynasty’s fan base no doubt feel the exact same way as the patriarch himself does). It comes down to this Jeff: Business is a zero sum game. In order to succeed, one must always be cultivating new, and existing, customers. To intentionally alienate either is sheer folly.
I agree with you when it comes to business. I just think Robertson was speaking as an individual — for himself — in a profile piece about him for a mens lifestyle magazine (I admit I do not read GQ nor have I reviewed the whole piece on Roberston). And who knows — maybe he was speaking to his “base,” the way Gov. Jindal and Sarah Palin are (love them or hate them, I think they know exactly what they are doing). He probably wasn’t thinking about the “business” side of his show or A&E. But A&E executives were acting as a business, and their decision to punish him for his thoughts (which are shared by millions of Americans and probably most fans of Duck Dynasty) are doing what a business should not do — alienating viewers and prospective viewers. I think they made a mistake and went too far.
Thanks for both comments, (and great to hear from you again, CPO Kasko). This particular blog is all about the business of business. And, Duck Dynasty is big business. Executives (even if they double as family patriarchs) need to be smarter about their comments. Religious beliefs and sexual preferences should be kept private. It makes abolsutely NO business sense whatsoever to purposely alienate viewers, prospective viewers or employees of A&E. As Forest Gump might have said, “Supid is as stupid does.”
Steve: I’m not convinced that either Phil Robertson or A&E has been implementing an image or reputation strategy. Each just reacted to something in a natural, instinctive manner — I guess they didn’t know any better. Robertson was asked a question about what he thought was sinful and he answered it based on his personal, biblical-inspired beliefs. Nothing wrong with that. He wasn’t hateful. Free speech. A&E had a knee-jerk reaction (to suspend him) based on its politically-correct, liberal-leaning worldview. People are fed up with these “controversies” related to hot-botton social issues (whether its the original statement or the media and politicians joining the fray). I think the “winner,” as far as reputation and image, is going to be Robertson and the Duck Dynasty franchise (even if you disagree with his thoughts and statements). A&E is the loser (unless they keep the show). I can tell you I’ve never watched Duck Dynasty, but I will definitely be tuning in when the new season starts! Merry Christmas!
Sarah Palin needs a verse in what the actual First Amendment right is. Phil didn’t go to jail because of what he said. These people actually think there should be no consequences because of “free speech.” They should learn what that actually is. Good post.