Will 'Duck Dynasty' star's anti-gay rant hurt Wal-Mart?

A&E has indefinitely suspended Phil Robertson after his recent comments. How will the nation's largest retailer handle the uproar?

By Forbes Digital Dec 19, 2013 1:54PM
Credit: (Courtesy of A&E)
Caption: Phil Robertson of 'Duck Dynasty'By Clare O'Connor, Forbes

When I wrote a story on the "Duck Dynasty" $400 million merchandise empire for a recent issue of Forbes, one quote stood out.

"It's a huge risk, taking on personalities," said Charlie Anderson, the CEO of retail marketing agency Shoptology. "Look at what happened with Paula Deen," he said, referring to the Southern chef's racism scandal and resulting loss of lucrative partnerships.

Anderson added, "The 'Duck Dynasty' guys have flaws, but they're wholesome."

Hmm. Wholesome, if you get warm fuzzy feelings from horribly outdated, ignorant anti-gay rhetoric.

One of the cast members of A&E's hugely popular reality series gave an interview with GQ that must be read in full, partly because I can't reprint some of its language, but here's a snippet from inside the brain of Phil Robertson (pictured), a duck hunter:

"Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men," he says. "Don't be deceived. Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers -- they won't inherit the kingdom of God. Don't deceive yourself. It's not right."
He also has some distressing thoughts on pre-Civil Rights-era Louisiana, but I'll leave you to discover those in the pages of GQ.

GLAAD has called on A&E and its advertisers to "re-examine their ties to someone with such public disdain for LGBT people and families." Robertson himself, via A&E's press office, issued what can be charitably described as a fauxpology, saying his anti-gay beliefs are based on Bible teachings.

A&E Networks released the following statement Wednesday evening:
"We are extremely disappointed to have read Phil Robertson's comments in GQ, which are based on his own personal beliefs and are not reflected in the series Duck Dynasty. His personal views in no way reflect those of A+E Networks, who have always been strong supporters and champions of the LGBT community. The network has placed Phil under hiatus from filming indefinitely."
It seems unlikely that A&E would dump the most-watched reality show of all time, and one that's spawned such a successful merchandise business.

What, then, will Wal-Mart (WMT) do? The big-box giant is responsible for about 50% of this year's incredible $400 million in "Duck Dynasty"-related retail sales, with Phil Robertson's mug (along with his bearded relatives) gracing its bestselling T-shirt in both men's and women's apparel. Some Wal-Mart stores in the South feature entire aisles devoted to the Louisiana duck hunters, selling items like bedding and prayer devotionals adorned with their trademark camouflage and folksy catchphrases.

Wal-Mart publicly dumped Paula Deen after the Southern chef's headline-grabbing allegations of racism this past summer, although you can still find her cookware on Walmart.com. The question is whether the powers that be in Bentonville, Ark., believe Robertson's homophobia will anger their shoppers the same way they clearly imagined Deen's apparent racism would.

Wal-Mart declined to comment. Watch this space, though. The pressure will be on the world's largest retailer to take the lead over every other store carrying Duck Dynasty merchandise in dealing with this ugly situation.

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Tags: WMT
2552Comments
Dec 19, 2013 2:31PM
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what a biased article.. you post them out of context and dont include the parts where he says its not up to him to judge but up to the lord and that he just needs to love them all... real nice omission.. 
Dec 19, 2013 2:30PM
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Agree or disagree with Phil's beliefs, he is entitled to talk about those beliefs.  That's what the First Amendment is for.
Dec 19, 2013 2:37PM
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 I don't care for gay lifestyle that does not mean I hate the person living it and I'm fairly certain Phil doesn't either. Just seems every time someone gives their opinion someone is offended. 
Dec 19, 2013 2:35PM
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He has a right to voice his opinions, and the consumer has a right to ignore them.  If someone makes disgusting comments about Christianity, the media would not be so up in arms about it. 
Dec 19, 2013 2:52PM
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I hope Duck Dynasty refuse to film again until Phil is allowed to return to the show.  Let's see how A&E handles that.  I know another network will latch on to them in a heart beat.  Phil has the right to his opinion.  If people don't like what he says simply don't watch the show or don't buy their products.  As for me, I will continue to watch every episode and I will appreciate that they are willing to stand up for what they believe is right.  There is a reason why 83% of the country agrees that he has the right to his opinion.  Our country is based on these fundamental rights.  It's not based on being politically correct or kissing up to certain groups.  America speak out for what is right!  SUPPORT PHIL! 
Dec 19, 2013 2:40PM
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I stand with "The Duck Commander"  It is a freedom of speech!!  Don't like want he says don't watch.
Dec 19, 2013 2:37PM
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The liberal left wing loons in this country are way out of control. Starting with the Pansy in  Chief.
This country has a Constitution and I for one, am beyond sick of watching these narrow minded, uninformed "people" stomp on it. I am also beyond  sick of the gay people in this country shoving their sexuality down our collective throats. We get it, you play for the other team, that doesn't somehow make you "special", get over it.
Dec 19, 2013 2:38PM
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good for phil . its his right and i agree with him . we can deal with gays in society doesnt mean we have to agree with that lifestyle. so be it its america
Dec 19, 2013 2:40PM
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It is very apparent that the gay and lesbian community will NEVER stop b*tching, whining, and crying. (nor will the media stop stirring its cess-pool)

Grow up already! Tolerant my a**! If the so-called tolerant are soooooo tolerant, then why continually crucify those who express views that aren't fashionable and/or don't adhere to the sheep mentality????????

Dec 19, 2013 2:49PM
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the guy who wrote this article refers to the quote from the BIBLE as "horribly outdated" and "ignorant"  hmmm  who oversees the trashy articles on here?  media=liberal.  gee, lets ask an outspoken conservative Christian what he thinks of gays and then be pissed at his response?!  Boosted Chickfila's business, should do the same here.  I suggest A/E get on board with their Duck boys all the way to the bank.  I don't think this opinion is the minority like "they" think it is.  Its just that nobody has the balls Phil Robertson does.  you know what they say about opinions... 
Dec 19, 2013 2:35PM
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The only time you are allowed to give your opinion is when it agrees with the ignorant left!
Dec 19, 2013 2:42PM
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Seems to me he never incited violence or ill will towards homosexuals. He simply stated his religious beliefs and that he believes homosexuality is a sin.

I think the real issue is that some groups have ceased to be the persecuted and have become the persecutors. Christianity does not fit this lifestyle so they'll destroy anything that resembles the faith.

This reminds me of McCarthyism. You will believe in what I believe or I will use fear to get everyone on my side.

Does anyone really think Christians are going to denounce their beliefs because someone gets mad about it? Not going to happen.

Dec 19, 2013 2:32PM
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The Witch Hunt for anti gays is well underway. Seems like it's bad to be straight and OK to be gay. All dissention is being crushed by a gay, liberal  dominated press and entertainment industry. growing up in the Cold War era I never dreamed I'd support a former KGB officer such as Vladimir Putin.  Russia's new laws on propaganda as bad as they are, are necessary in light of the political and social climate of America, where all dissention is being crushed by the media.
Dec 19, 2013 2:34PM
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when did Blacks and Gays become the "Protected Class" and good old southern white boys become the butt of all the Liberal media?
Dec 19, 2013 2:48PM
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Claire,

You call Phil's comments "horribly outdated, ignorant anti-gay rhetoric". Phil's comments are an accurate paraphrase of God's word. I would hesitate to call the Bible " horribly outdated, ignorant anti-gay rhetoric". Have you even read the referenced passage? Do you even care? Or do you always judge by you opinion without doing any research? If you really want to know what the Bible says about all forms of sexual behavior, take a concordance and look up the passages that deal with sexual behavior. You may not agree with what you find, but the Bible is very clear on the issue. Disagreeing with my opinion is one thing, calling the truth of God a lie is to take a very dangerous position indeed. 


Dec 19, 2013 2:41PM
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I think sales of Duck Dynasty gear will increase!  I am going to buy stuff I don't need just to support Phil.   How many butt pirates watch the show, anyway?  
Dec 19, 2013 2:20PM
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Who cares what he say? It's a free world y'all and he can say what he want! I don agree wif him but so what?
Dec 19, 2013 2:24PM
Dec 19, 2013 2:28PM
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The only time you can voice your opinion is if it doesn't ruffle some duck feathers!  



Dec 19, 2013 2:38PM
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 Wal-Mart sales will increase, not decrease, on Duck Dynasty junk .   Please keep the fan base in mind.   Probably see LGBT rainbow camo shirts now.
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