Friday Cracker Barrel made a corporate decision to remove all Duck Dynasty merchandise from its 625 corporate owned restaurants and gift stores. It was such a marketing nightmare that today they reversed that decision through an open letter to its customers posted on its website.
“When we made the decision to remove and evaluate certain Duck Dynasty items, we offended many of our loyal customers. Our intent was to avoid offending, but that’s just what we’ve done,” said the open letter.
The chain may have had clouded judgment based on past experiences. The chain received national attention for a written company policy that discriminated against gays.
At issue was an edict by Cracker Barrel founder Danny Evins to fire employees “whose sexual preferences fail to demonstrate normal heterosexual values.” His reasoning was that gay people made customers in rural areas feel uncomfortable, according to gothamist.com.
In March 1991 Evins publically apologized and stated the policy had been rescinded according to Towler Road, a website offering information about gay issues and concerns. However it wasn’t until 2002 that Cracker Barrel’s board of directors unanimously voted to forbid gay discrimination in the company also according to Towler Road.
Cracker Barrel’s actions did little to comfort the LGBT community. In 2010 The Human Rights Campaign Index had Cracker Barrel ranked as the third-worst company in terms of LGBT rights and benefits according to Huffington Post.
“The company does not prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender, provide partner benefits, or require diversity training that includes sexual orientation,” according to the index.
Now they seem to have had a great awakening.
“You told us we made a mistake,” said the open letter. “And, you weren’t shy about it. You wrote, you called and you took to social media to express your thoughts and feelings. You flat out told us we were wrong.”
The letter indicates their cash registers are reminding them the best approach to marketing is to remember one’s core customer.
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