The other day I was in a meeting in which a scientist (from another company) attempted to explain how his new data would circumvent some rumors created by a competitor that his particular product might be harmful.
“Wake up and smell the Tea Party,” I said.
He looked at me with this baffled appearance.
I went on to explain how we have scientific evidence to prove climate change, evolution and, to get to the most basic elements, where President Barack Obama was born. Still, there’s a huge chunk of Americans who simply do not believe in these so-called facts.
The gentleman calmly responded this his point of view was different. His evidence would be scientific and the upcoming definitive study release would be definitive.
And I went over the last several years, multiple studies from reputable organizations were released about this very matter. But still, thanks to a savvy competitor who spreads verbal rumors of dread, decision-makers are left with doubt.
My conversation mate seemed to think that evidence would win the day. I remain skeptical.
The Theater Around the Facts
This chasm exists between fact and the other side of fact. I won’t call it fiction because it’s not quite that either. Step up to the plate of the latest debate over the hit television show, “Duck Dynasty” on A&E.
Personally, I do not watch it, although I’ve caught two or three episodes here or there. As a reality television fan, I know manipulation when I see it and this show is just short of scripted. Nothing reality about it. The appeal of the show is whether you happen to like the family and I am simply indifferent to them.
When the patriarch of the family, Phil Robertson, expressed his distaste for gays and African Americans, the A&E network made a brilliant move just a few days before Christmas (with stores full of Duck Dynasty goods).
Suspending Phil Robertson “indefinitely” from the show.
The response was swift. The right wing called fowl and all those duck fans ran to Mr. Robertson’s defense, saying his First Amendment rights were being violated.
The First Amendment reads (with a little emphasis added by me):
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
The Constitution does not state that television or anyone cannot abridge someone else’s speech.
The Oddity of It All
All the folks upset that Phil Robertson’s speech is being abridged, it’s not. In fact, Mr. Robertson’s speech is now amplified for free across multiple networks.
As a marketer, I find all this odd — especially the timing. I am not much for conspiracies, but one can influence economies with well-placed publicity and Duck Dynasty had crested to be possibly falling.
How could A&E along with the machine for that multimillionaire family keep them in gold-and-diamond rings along with beard-grooming equipment.
USA Today noted on Dec. 24 that Duck Dynasty gear was flying off the shelves at record pace. And even with the controversy, A&E “celebrates Christmas with a round-the-clock marathon” on its network, according to Fox News.
A Bridge Across the Divide
That’s the bridge. Money. Money making. Greed.
Bad thing? Nope. It’s actually a brilliant marketing move. Walking through Kohl’s the other night, I could see Duck Dynasty merchandise already disheveled. Target’s stacks were practically gone.
Interestingly enough, homophobic Cracker Barrel said it would stop carrying Duck Dynasty gear but soon reversed course.
Americans seem just too preoccupied or — frankly, stupid — to let it bother them that they’re putting more money into the pockets of a family who really don’t need any more cash. As a consumer-based society, we vote with our pocketbook and wallet and this is a way of showing support.
Phil Robertson gets his bully pulpit to spout his hate many more days. Duck Dynasty get attention. A&E and the family gets a lot more money.
A lot of winners in this little game.
And absolutely none of the theater has to do with the facts.