Why suspending Phil Robertson could be a masterstroke for A&E

A&E logo Duck Dynasty Phil RobertsonBy this time, you’ve heard that A&E has suspended Duck Dynasty‘s Phil Robertson for comments he made to GQ magazine.   And you may know that I’m not terribly surprised that mainstream culture is perhaps taking the first steps of distancing itself from Duck Dynasty.

First off, let me say that this post has nothing to do with Phil Robertson’s comments. Or his right to make the comments. Or whether GQ baited him into saying something controversial. Or even whether A&E was right to suspend Mr. Robertson from the show.

Instead, the purpose of this post is to consider the interesting situation that A&E has created through this suspension:

  1. They’re getting a TON of publicity for the show.  Even those living under a proverbial rock should now know about Duck Dynasty.
  2. The show’s core audience has become even more loyal to the Robertson family (and perhaps to the show itself).
  3. This surge in loyalty will send sales of Duck Dynasty merchandise and ratings for the television show through the roof.
  4. The family’s in-show reaction to the suspension may create a new show storyline (similar to the way Jon & Kate Gosselin’s marital collapse created a storyline for Jon & Kate Plus 8).

I’m assuming that A&E (and their lawyers) have the broadcast rights to the Robertson family under lock and key, and my hunch is that they get a respectable cut of all merchandise sales related to the show.  So who benefits from the controversy?  A&E.  Sure, they have to be the bad guy for a while, but my guess is they really don’t care.

And what options are left for angry, pro-Phil Robertson Duck Dynasty fans?

  1. Boycott the show. (highly unlikely)
  2. Raise a stink about the suspension via social media. (see point #1 above…this fuels the publicity machine)
  3. Show support by buying Duck Dynasty gear. (A&E likely profits from these sales)
  4. Boycott all other A&E shows. (Duck Dynasty fans likely don’t watch other A&E shows)

In short, this move could be a masterstroke for A&E.

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