Duck Dynasty is on their final season on A&E Network. Eleven seasons for a cable show is extraordinary. Eleven seasons for ANY show is amazing. But, to do it with no swearing, no sex, no marital scandals- that is astonishing. Add into the mix humor, Christian thoughts, an underlying moral to each episode and people keep watching— that is a marketer’s dream.
When it came to negotiate their contract for the fourth season, they received a payment to be around $200.000 each per episode. Phil said at the time, “Certainly we asked for more money. Look at the ratings!”
Duck Commander and Deer Commander and all the side companies from fishing to restaurants they have become a multi-million-dollar business. They have sold upward to 160,000 duck calls in a year which some go as much at $200.00 each- you do the math… it hurts my head.
The warehouse has become a tourism directors dream with lines of people ready to purchase hats, duck calls and bobble heads of the cast. Most of the clan have written books which have been on the New York Times best seller lists. From Bibles to devotionals, to cook books to how to hunt. Biographies and Uncle Si’s Si-cology 1 they have reached out to all brands. Markets and individuals.
They have spoken on Leno, Jimmy Kimmel, Bible retreats and even the Republican Convention. Perhaps, as one commentator wrote they have extending their brand too much. Or perhaps- they are just making money while the sun shines. But they did it.
To insult the marketing execs and even Hollywood even more- they did it with no swearing, no sex and no scandals. Even as women come up to brother Jase to let him know they have a hotel down the street, he declines keeping to the family’s core beliefs.
Drank Mostly Whiskey Out of The Bottle, Was A Louisiana Bad Duck Boy
To think all of this began with Phil who grew up with no running water, no electricity and an outhouse deep into the woods. He attended Louisiana Tech on a football scholarship. He was a first-string quarterback while then- future Super Bowl champion, Terry Bradshaw sat on the bench. Phil did get a master’s degree in education- but gave up the idea of playing professional football when he found out he wouldn’t be able to go out duck hunting.
He married his high school sweetheart Miss Kay, when he was 17 and she was 16. He started to smoke dope, listened to Jimi Hendrix, drank mostly whiskey out of the bottle, hunted out of season and was a Louisiana Bad Duck Boy.
While Miss Kay was pregnant they made, a living selling flathead catfish at 70 cents a pound. He started to lease a bar called ‘The Hill’, he fooled around with women. He beat up the bar’s owners, disappeared for a while. When he came back he kicked his family out of the trailer and declined to what he called the ‘evils of the world’.
One day he had enough and begged Miss Kay to take him back. She did with conditions. He had to stop drinking, get rid of his friends and become a man of faith. 1972 was the beginning of his new life. When he decided to improve on the duck calls that he was finding in the stores. He and Si made them by hand using two reeds instead of one. Si still carves by hand a small dimple that keeps the two reeds separated that makes Duck Commander calls so different from the competition.
They began making videos on duck hunting and going out on the road talking to hunters about the sport and about his faith. The videos began showing on the Outdoor Channel and the rest- as they say is history.
A&E reached out to the family in 2011 and suggested a reality series that was less about the actual hunting of ducks than it was about a funny redneck-y family obsessed with ducks. Phil thought that might be okay.
And okay it is. This is the final season- but I don’t think it will be the last we will hear from the Robertson’s. They tell us there may be specials in the future- but even without that nugget of a promise— it still seems the Robertson’s, duck calls, faith and humor are here to stay.