We are all very much aware of the Duck Dynasty and Phil Robertson deal. However, have you thought about what kind of marketing lessons we can glean from this story?
The cliché saying, “there’s always two sides to the story” doesn’t really apply in this situation and here’s why: There are four sides to this story. The first is obvious, Phil’s story. The second and third are A&E and their advertisers. The fourth and final side is that of the Duck Dynasty fans. Let’s take a look at some things that we can learn from each of these stories.
Obviously, Phil has created his own brand over the years. He is who he is and has never been ashamed of that fact. It is important to remember to take the time and energy needed to create a quality brand. This means building out a brand strategy and combining that with a solid marketing strategy, which might (and probably will) include a social media strategy as well. While it could be debated that Phil’s words came across as very dogmatic and harsh, his message was consistent with his brand. Maintaining consistency throughout all of your messaging is important to building your brand.
A&E is in a unique situation. Their target market is the advertisers and viewers, which is vastly different than the typical target market situation. A&E has to consistently take into consideration the necessary steps to keep their advertisers happy. In this particular situation, A&E felt that a formal and public response was needed to keep the majority of their sponsors. While it seems A&E still has most of their advertisers, what about their viewers – that other half of their target market. An article by Michael Garland mentions that A&E didn’t realize that Duck Dynasty was going to be such a huge success. They originally produced the show so people would “laugh at the backward rednecks.” When this didn’t happen, A&E seemed to get a little uncomfortable. This provides a great lesson that it is necessary to understand what your entire target market is looking for. Do you recall the New Coke Debacle of 1985?
This part goes back to branding as well. The brands that support A&E, through their buying of commercial time, sit in a unique position. They must maintain their branding; they must decide what messages they are going to send. Skyjacker Suspensions came out in support of Phil, stating that it was an easy choice, because they are a Christian-based company. The first sentence in their About Us section states, “At Skyjacker, we believe our relationship with Jesus Christ has been the driving force in the success of our company.” This is a great example of a company sticking to the foundations of their brand in all decisions they make.
The Duck Dynasty Fan’s Story:
How are they responding to this entire situation? It’s important to keep in mind that fans and followers will always have the opportunity to respond. Just take a minute to reflect on your Facebook newsfeed in the hours after the story was released. Your Twitter was probably blowing up with tweets about Phil, Duck Dynasty, A&E, and all sorts of other things that were tied to this. A quick Google search for “Duck Dynasty response blog” will provide you with several blog posts, opinion articles, and news articles regarding the response to Phil’s remarks. We need to remember that our messaging and our branding does matter to our audiences. They will find a way to respond, even if we’re not invited to the conversation.
It is hard to always send the right message. It’s even harder to try and make everyone happy with your branding choices. SJC is here to understand your target market and create messages that work the best with the brand you want to create.