PREVIOUS: The Duck Dynasty controversy may be starting to scare off the show’s retail quarry. The Cracker Barrel chain quietly pulled some of its Duck Dynasty-branded products from its restaurants on Friday, then promptly found itself in the cross-hairs of the show’s outraged fans.
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.”
While some stores might migrate away from the suddenly divisive yet popular brand, others may enjoy a sales surge. Conservative blogs have posted unconfirmed reports that Duck Dynasty merchandise has sold out at many Walmart locations — the big box retailer carries Duck products in six departments in its stores. Walmart, which we’re told represents a sizable chunk of the show’s massive $400 million merchandising empire, has not commented on the controversy, however. And one media outlet says that evidence for the fan-flocking phenomenon in Walmart stores is flimsy. More quantifiable: Billboard reports Duck Dynasty Christmas album, Duck the Halls, is expected to rise on the charts this week, having already sold about 600,000 copies.
Meanwhile, A&E has hunkered down for the holiday, with insiders suggesting the network plans to regroup after the break and resolve the issue and get the show back on track. Since the Robertsons’ statement of support for their patriarch on their website, the family likewise seems to be avoiding directly commenting on the issue (some anonymous “close to the family” reports aside).
“We’ve had kind of a crazy week back home,” Duck Dynasty cast-member Jep Robertson told fans at 5k charity run in Atlanta on Saturday morning. “We’ve gotten a lot of support. We really appreciate it.”