Facing an unprecedented backlash from its loyal customers, restaurant and retail chain Cracker Barrel decided to restock “Duck Dynasty” products just two days after removing them from its shelves. The initial move was a hasty response to selective outrage over the views of one of the hit A&E show’s main characters, Phil Robertson.
The popular chain not only announced the merchandise would be available again Sunday, a subsequent statement offered a sincere apology for the ban implemented Friday.
“You flat out told us we were wrong,” a Facebook statement said earlier this week. “We listened.”
A&E placed Roberston on indefinite hiatus following a GQ interview in which he described homosexuality – and a host of other acts – as sinful. In the days since, Americans have overwhelmingly spoken out in favor of the embattled reality star.
Cracker Barrel witnessed this public sentiment as countless outraged customers threatened to discontinue their patronage of the chain. Unlike some companies who seem unwilling to admit a mistake, this unique corporation was able to largely smooth the developing rift by acting swiftly and decisively.
“When we made the decision to remove and evaluate certain Duck Dynasty items,” the post explained, “we offended many of our loyal customers. Our intent was to avoid offending, but that’s just what we’ve done.”
The company confirmed Americans “weren’t shy about” expressing their displeasure, noting individuals complained via social media, telephone, and mail.
As of Sunday, the statement continued, items initially removed from the shopping area were being brought out again.
While Cracker Barrel can possibly be faulted for acting prematurely in pulling a product based on a vocal minority’s opposition, company executives at least realized the error of the decision and issued an unequivocal apology to those offended.
Far more than in other recent cases – such as the controversy surrounding celebrity chef Paula Deen’s reported use of a racial epithet – this incident attracted far more support for the targeted party than for those who were ostensibly wronged. Cracker Barrel wisely acted to correct this misstep before alienating the bulk of its clientele.
It remains to be seen whether A&E and various sponsors who bailed on the Robertson family can similarly reverse course.
–B. Christopher Agee
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Photo credit: Rusty Clark (Creative Commons)