'Duck Dynasty' Book Sales Rise Following Phil Robertson Gay Comments Controversy; A&E Caves In, Removes Suspension
In spite of the recent controversy surrounding "Duck Dynasty's" Phil Robertson, books written by four members of the A&E reality show's Robertson family have continued to rise in sales during the holiday season.
A book poll from USA Today finds that Phil Robertson's memoir Happy Happy Happy jumped from No. 56 to No. 46 last week, making its way into the media outlet's "Top 50" bestselling titles of the week ending on Dec. 22. Additionally, "Duck Dynasty" co-star Miss Kay's cookbook, Miss Kay's Duck Commander Kitchen, jumped from No. 30 to No. 19, while Pastor Alan Robertson's The Duck Commander Devotional now sits at No. 23, up from No. 35. Lastly, Si-cology, written by the reality show's zany uncle Si Robertson, is at No. 28 from No. 33.
In addition to heightened book sales, Billboard reported last week that Robertson family's Christmas album, "Duck the Halls: A Robertson Family Christmas," was on track to sell 125,000 copies in the week ending on Dec. 22. The album, which features cameos from famous country musicians like George Strait, has sold a total of 575,000 copies since it was released in late October.
Chris Stone, founder of Faith Driven Consumer, an organization that connects Christian consumers with faith-compatible companies, told The Hollywood Reporter that the recent controversy surrounding Phil Robertson and his comments on homosexuality could actually result in a rise in sales for the "Duck Dynasty" brand.
"In this case those that like Phil or like Duck Dynasty specifically would be more inclined to engage with the brand because they identify with it," Stone told the media outlet. Faith Driven Consumer led a popular online petition, "I Stand with Phil," to show their solidarity and support for Phil Robertson.
Stone compared Robertson's current controversy to the previous controversy involving fast food chain restaurant Chick-fil-A, which was boycotted by thousands of Americans in August 2012 after the chain's President Dan Cathy answered a question posed to him on same-sex marriage by giving a biblical opinion that marriage was the union between one man and one woman.
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Cathy's comments sparked outrage among gay activists with many calling for people to boycott the fast food restaurant. However, in response to those calls, hundreds of thousands quickly rallied to back the Chick-fil-A brand and Cathy. Many demanded that gay activists respect freedom of speech and religious freedom, and more than half a million customers showing up at Chick-fil-A restaurants on August 1, 2012 for a specially arranged "Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day" to support the chain. Chick-fil-A restaurants across the country were shown on the day with hundreds queuing up to buy food, and many sold out of food completely.
"There was a tremendous outpouring of support for [Chick-fil-A]," Stone said, adding, "if a brand is aligned with them or compatible with them, they certainly would increase their shopping."
Supporters of Phil Robertson have already announced their intentions to hold a "Chick-Phil-A Day" event on Tuesday, Jan. 21. The Facebook page announcing the event, which is not officially sponsored by Chick-fil-A, encourages customers to show up to their local Chick-fil-A franchise restaurant on Jan. 21 wearing Duck Commander or camouflage gear to show their support for Robertson.
The "Duck Dynasty" controversy began two weeks ago when Phil Robertson, patriarch of the Robertson family featured on the A&E reality show "Duck Dynasty," told GQ Magazine that as an evangelical Christian he believes the Bible identifies homosexuality as a sin, just as drunkenness, adultery, and idolatry are sins. Although Robertson was quick to point out that he loves all of God's children and doesn't judge others, his comments were met with strong criticism by gay activists, and GLAAD called for the A&E network to dump the Duck Dynasty show. The A&E network quickly caved in to the gay activist demands and announced its decision to "indefinitely suspend" Phil Robertson from appearing on his reality show.
However, despite the backlash Robertson received from gay activist groups, that criticism was dwarfed by the immense amount of support from politicians, religious leaders, Christian leaders and free speech advocates. Hundreds of thousands signed online petitions calling for Phil to be reinstated, with many saying they would boycott A&E altogether in protest at the network's actions.
The Robertson family also issued a statement saying that although some of the comments Phil made were "coarse," they ultimately stood behind the family patriarch's comments that homosexuality was a sin, and they questioned whether the other family members could proceed with the show without Phil by their side.
"Duck Dynasty" has proven to be a major ratings booster for the A&E network, wrangling over 10 million viewers in some episodes. The show follows the Robertson family and the Duck Commander duck call business in West Monroe, La.
Companies that carry the "Duck Dynasty" and Duck Commander brands, including WalMart, Under Armour, and Target, have remained relatively silent on the recent Robertson controversy and have continued to sell the show's merchandise. The restaurant chain Cracker Barrel temporarily pulled some "Duck Dynasty" merchandise from the shelves of its stores, only to quickly apologize and restore the goods after a mass backlash from customers at the move.
The A&E network also caved in, and just nine days after "indefinitely suspending" Phil Robertson, the network announced on Dec. 27 that it would be reinstating him to the "Duck Dynasty" reality show when filming resumes in spring. The statement read, in part: "[...] after discussions with the Robertson family, as well as consulting with numerous advocacy groups, A&E has decided to resume filming 'Duck Dynasty' later this spring with the entire Robertson family."