UPDATE: Cracker Barrel Old Country Store reversed its decision to pull certain ‘Duck Dynasty’ items from the shelves, amid backlash from customers.
The company made the following announcement on its Facebook page:
“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 told us we made a mistake. And, you weren't shy about it. You wrote, you called and you took to social media to express your thoughts and feelings. You flat out told us we were wrong."
If you followed the Paula Deen controversy, you know how this works. A reality star or television personality, often celebrated for their unpolished quirks, will say something unsavory. This will not happen on the TV show for which they are famous, but in their personal life or in magazine interviews where candor is expected.
Then, surprise, surprise we find out these eccentric reality TV personalities have flaws or unpopular opinions. Sometimes they might even say things that others find offensive. Cue the angry mob, and within a few days the disgraced TV star gets fired from the show that brought their network millions of dollars.
Now comes the part when endorsements are lost.
Count Cracker Barrel among the first companies to distance themselves from “Duck Dynasty” patriarch Phil Robertson, who was indefinitely suspended by A&E, the network that airs his show, after anti-gay remarks made in a GQ interview. On Thursday evening, Cracker Barrel Old Country Store announced on its Facebook page that it “removed selected products which we were concerned might offend some of our guests while we evaluate the situation.”
While the restaurant hasn’t come any under any real fire for selling the “Duck Dynasty” products to this point, it’s never a bad idea to make a cheap publicity grab. There were no known boycotts of the restaurant chain, nor protest demonstrations outside of their country stores. But taking the opportunity to prop itself up on a moral high ground while simultaneously getting some free press is an irresistible win-win for companies that formerly endorsed the disgraced television star.
Cracker Barrel will continue to sell some “Duck Dynasty” products. Presumably, just the ones featuring Phil Robertson will be pulled. Perhaps the mere sight of Robertson and the reminder that he exists will offend customers. Or perhaps the company just wants customers to know that they do not share his belief that homosexuality is sinful. There must be a new expectation that every retailer share the same beliefs as every person whose products are sold in their stores.
Look forward to a week’s worth of press releases and stories about other companies cutting ties with Robertson. Next comes the part when other celebrities, always regarded as intellectuals and voices of reason, publicly denounce the fallen star. And really, what could be worse?