The decision to suspend Phil Robertson, from the filming of his hit show Duck Dynasty, by A&E, could prove to be the best marketing move of 2013.
What we see on the surface is that Phil Robertson stuck to his beliefs about homosexuality in an interview with GQ Magazine (formerly Gentlemen’s Quarterly). A&E decided that they did not agree with his stance and chose to suspend Phil Robertson from the filming of the hit reality show Duck Dynasty. But there’s more to this story than meets the eye.
A&E didn’t mind offending atheists by showing a family prayer at the end of each episode. They certainly didn’t mind offending animal rights activists when they showed Phil Robertson and family killing wild animals. But apparently, the homosexual duck hunters is a demographic you don’t want to offend.
Something isn’t adding up here. Why would A&E suspend Phil Robertson and not just cancel his contract or cancel the show all together? My bet, is we are witnessing a very clever butt covering trick turned marketing ploy. It’s likely the best I’ve seen all year!
I’m willing to bet that things get “sorted out” just in time for the January 15th premiere of Duck Dynasty. In the mean time, you can learn a thing or two about viral marketing. And you don’t even have to suspend Phil Robertson from your Tivo recordings.
Surround a Great Debate – No one will win the homosexuality debate any time soon (I’m sorry everyone on Facebook). It has gone on since the beginning of time. The news that A&E would suspend Phil Robertson wouldn’t last very long, people need a sub debate to keep talking about, so why not suspend Phil Robertson and wrap him into the middle of the great debate about sexual orientation?
Don’t Hurt Yourself – I seriously doubt that A&E’s decision to suspend Phil Robertson is actually hurting him. He may not be in a few episodes this season though. When they do that on a regular show it’s called “vacation.”
Fight Fire With Fire – GQ and A&E are owned by larger companies. Conde Nast and Hearst Corporation respectively. These two companies are competing for your eyes. It would appear that GQ had a few pointed questions that they knew would get Phil Robertson into some hot water. I don’t know if they thought this would end Duck Dynasty, but A&E sure spun this in their direction by suspending their star and creating huge buzz. A suspension will certainly say “we don’t agree with his opinion” but still allow you “work it out so he’s back on the show” well before the season premiere. Well before you lose any fans.
Know Your Market – I’m not sure what the demographic for Duck Dynasty is, but I they’re finding out while watching everyone on the internet debate who’s right and who’s wrong. As such, they may even build a more loyal following from this. People who support Phil’s view are more apt to purchase Duck Dynasty merchandise now to show their support.
Don’t offend – This is where GQ has hurt themselves. They chose to ask questions that would insight certain answers in order to try to increase their sales. Which I’m sure was a success. But at what cost? There are real people, with real feelings, who are offended by what was said. No increase in profits can be worth offending good people.
I could be wrong about all of this. As it stands right now, we’ll just have to wait and see.
What do you think: Did A&E just make the best marketing move of 2013?