Duck Dynasty

Duck Dynasty and other Dumb Stuff

by Dave Cottrell

Duck Dynasty has been one of the top things trending in the last few weeks.

This is kind of amusing, because it goes very much against the grain of much of the western media, including the very station that hosts the show.  They don’t really like Phil, a man of unbending faith, but know how trends work, and like the money he and his family bring in for the A&E (and ultimately, Disney) coffers.

And there it is, that word, “trend.”  duck dynasty trending

We can actually learn quite a bit from Duck Dynasty and other apparently dumb stuff, by examining the Duck Dynasty/Phil Robertson/A&E/GLAAD/Cracker Barrel series of events over the last month or so.  Believe me, there were some big winners here, and very little lost by anyone, with the possible exception of Cracker Barrel.

Here’s what happened.  GQ magazine, oddly and ironically enough, almost completely invisible in this story, did a yet-to-be published interview with Phil Robertson, the patriarch of the Robertson family and the company he founded, Duck Commander, from which the whole A&E program, Duck Dynasty, grew.

There are many things that GQ could have asked Phil about, including why he preferred duck hunting over coaching high school football, or why a man with a master’s degree was such a redneck, or how he ever got his famous duck calls into Walmart  (that’s an amazing story on its own), but instead, they began asking him leading questions about his faith.  I have not read the entire interview, but from what I have read, it seems quite obvious that the interviewer was trying to make Mr. Robertson appear foolish for his beliefs.

The key question, the one that stirred up the whole fiasco that got GLAAD mad, Phil fired, Cracker Barrel all balled up and Phil finally rehired a very short time later, was when the interviewer asked Phil what he believed sin was.  

Now, you would think the interviewer would have done his research.  You would think he would have had a few facts straight, such as, Phil Robertson is not stupid.  He has a master’s degree, taught high school, and was a high school football coach.  He also invented a duck call that beat all the professionally developed calls in every competition, which he was able to get into Walmart and onto their shelves so successfully that when upper management discovered they had been bypassed, were all too happy to keep selling, because sales were through the roof.  

This obviously uninformed reporter should also have known that Phil Robertson is what is known by those in the know as a very religious man.  He is an elder in his church, which means, if one did their research, that he is a pastor, preacher and evangelist in a fairly large church in their town of Monroe, Alabama.  

Again, that writer should have known that it is the type of church where the folks take their Bible very seriously and literally, and Phil is one of the most uncompromising of them all.   In fact, when A&E was negotiating with Phil Robertson about filming, they told him they wanted him to stop praying on the show.   Phil told them that Duck Dynasty is a reality show about their family, and prayer is a big reality for their family, so no prayer, no show.  They backed down and the prayer stayed in.

Had the GQ journalist known these things (I use the term, “journalist,” rather loosely, because I think he needs to go back and take journalism 101 over again), he would not have asked Phil such a question as “How do you define sin?”  As an informed and professional journalist, he would have already looked up what the Bible says  sin is, known how strongly Phil stands on the Bible, and what kind of a huge hornet’s nest he was poking in the USA by messing with two of what are STILL the favorite icons of a very large number of Americans:  Duck Dynasty and the Bible.

Here is the truth:  Whether all Americans even know what a duck looks like or have ever even opened their Bibles or not, these are two things you just don’t mess with, or you’re going to hear about it.

Well, our fine reporter, in his zeal to make a name for himself and make America’s favorite Christian redneck look like a complete, bigoted, small-minded, uneducated fool, stirred up a mess he will not soon forget.  I haven’t checked, but I’m not even sure the reporter still has a job, or how they’re going to handle printing the interview when it comes time for the next GQ to roll off the press.

But GLAAD got mad and screamed foul to A&E, which is owned by Disney Corporation, which considers itself to be the nation’s progressive leader, and A&E canned Phil Robertson.  The screaming continued, and Cracker Barrel, long thought to be a bastion of family values and straight laced Christian morality, quickly pulled anything and everything off their shelves that had the face of Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson on it.

Within a day of Mr. Robertson being suspended by A&E, one Facebook page put up in support of Phil Robertson had 1.5 MILLION likes.  That’s simply STAGGERING as any PR gal or guy will tell you.  But wait, there’s more… This was not the only Facebook page.  Multiple pages went up, garnering millions of likes in support of Duck Dynasty and Phil.

Then the Duck Commander crew, mostly members of the Robertson family, and all part of the cast of Duck Dynasty, came out and gave a statement, basically telling the world (and A&E) that without Phil, there was no Duck Dynasty.

In the mean time, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) came out in support of Phil Robertson.  They said that it didn’t matter whether or not they agreed with Phil;  this was trampling on freedom of speech and freedom of religion in America.

A significant portion of the LGBT community came out in support of Phil.  They most certainly did not agree with what he had to say when asked about sin regarding homosexuality, but they strongly warned that if people like Phil got censored, people from the LGBT community might be next. 

Finally, the uproar across the country (and from multiple countries) just got louder and louder.  A&E gave in and reinstated Phil, trying to put their best foot forward and look as innocent as possible.  (Money talks, other stuff walks, right?)  GLAAD and some ot their friends cried “Foul,” but A&E proclaimed that the people have spoken and who were they to keep the people from what they want?  (Translated, what kind of fools were they that they would throw so much money away;  Duck Dynasty is worth billions to A&E).

Cracker Barrel put Phil’s face back on their shelves and apologized for upsetting people, saying they were only trying not to upset people.  They are probably the biggest losers in all of this, because their clientele, which they obviously neglected to discover on their own, really were (notice the word, “were”) conservative religious people who thought they were supporting a conservative religious business.  Only time will tell if Cracker Barrel will ever recover from their massive blunder.  

But what is the point of all this?  After all, in our rather fast paced world, this is becoming old news, correct?

Well, there is a point and a good one.  Some people did very well from this, and some did fabulously well.  They were the people who spotted a trend and rode it till it dropped.

The news media ran everything they could find on Duck Dynasty for several weeks.  Night after night, until the arctic vortex hit Canada and the USA, Duck Dynasty was all over the news.  It was big news.  Why?  Because WAY more people than only those who support companies like GQ and Cracker Barrel really, really like watching the Robertson family on Duck Dynasty.  It is the most successful reality show of all time.

Those who reported about the Duck Dynasty saga on TV news, or blogged about it, or printed stories in the newspapers about it got a massive amount of mileage for their ink.  You can be sure, this sold a LOT of advertising.

The biggest losers in all of this were likely GLAAD, because their relevancy is more in more in question in our modern world, GQ, because their reporter caused a MASSIVE story to unfold, for which he got next to no traction, if any (anybody know his name?), and Cracker Barrel, because they “cheesed off” the majority of their customers, and don’t have any kind of carrot for them to bring them back.

The biggest winner, by FAR, is A&E.  They played it very well.  They could not have played it better if it was scripted.  The guy from GQ gets the blame for almost getting the much loved Phil Robertson canned, A&E showed that they care about the LGBT community by initially, at least, taking Phil off the air, but then the huge controversy and non-stop news coverage gave Duck Dynasty potentially billions of dollars in fantastic free adverting.  A&E rode this trend until just the right moment, then stepped back in, made a statement in agreement with the ACLU and also many members of the LGBT community about freedom of speech and freedom of religion in America, then reinstated Phil.  This is probably going to be the show’s best year, EVER, rather than it losing viewership as so many often do as time goes on.

What should all this tell YOU as an online business person?

Look for trends that fit your own niche, and write about them!  You probably won’t find a trend like A&E did with the Duck Dynasty fiasco, but there are trends that bring thousands of hits in to those riding them, every day.

One of my favorite places to look for trends is on the search engines.  For example, go to Google and type “trending now” into the search bar.  At the time of this article, you  would get 334,000,000 results!  That’s massive!

Then try your own niche. Let’s say it’s hand made stuff.  Type in “trending now handmade stuff,” and WOW!  26,200,000 results!  “trending now handmade jewelry” brings back 1.9 million results.  “trending now business ideas” gives almost 43 million results.  “trending now baseball memorabilia” returns over 2 million results.  

You can type in any niche with “trending now” and you will find something.  If you ride that trend, including quotes and trivia from the things that are trending, as long as you do it to enhance your OWN story, is not spam and will bring you traffic.  It might not be A&E traffic, but it will be good traffic that is made up of people interested in what you are talking about.  You can’t do much better than that.

 

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2 comments

  • Thanks for that comprehensive treatment of DD …. probably much more than we need to know …. but more than that, what a great zoomed-in view of the search engines, how to utilize the data, etc.
    Thanks again, Dave.

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    • Thanks, Alan. I like to give folks helpful information AND enjoyment. Hopefully I have succeeded. Good to see your smiling face here!

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