Target breach and Duck Dynasty comments cause crises of confidence


In the midst of the holiday season, a born-again Christian spouted off with decidedly un-Jesus-like views of gays.

And as shoppers push and shove their way into the last four days of the Christmas shopping season, a giant retailer has egg on its face. Target, after waiting three weeks to tell the public, admitted that hackers got into its credit card records on the day after Thanksgiving and may have stolen the data for millions of customers.


As ABC reported:

If you shopped at a Target store since Thanksgiving you might have been a victim of identity theft. The big retailer was hit by a brazen breach of customers’ credit and debit card information. As many as 40 million accounts may have been compromised. A statement this morning from Target “confirmed it is aware of unauthorized access to payment card data,” and is “working closely with law enforcement and financial institutions.”

The breach happened at stores across the country, not online. “What is most likely the case is that some piece of software along the chain of processing credit card transactions was compromised by something similar to a computer virus,” says Clifford Neuman at the Center for Computer Systems Security at the University of Southern California.

Is this a crisis? Not in and of itself, even with the huge number of customers possibly hacked. But what’s unconscionable and could lead to an enormous backlash against Target is that the Twin Cities-based company waited three weeks to tell everyone. Why? Because if it were announced the first day, Target’s holiday shopping sales would have tanked. The 40 million were tapped between Nov. 27 and Dec. 15, two of the largest weeks of the year for retailing.

But what about the bearded dudes on Duck Dynasty, the wildly popular cable series about a Louisiana family of millionaires who prospered from making duck calls.

The very premise of the show makes it pretty weird to start with, and Uncle Phil Robertson is probably the most snarky and persnickety of the crew. So it’s not entirely surprising that some of his back-woods views got front-burner attention and that they were so negative that A&E suspended him from the show.

This is a little akin to one of the members of Kiss being told he can’t use makeup.

After throwing around some pretty odd views in an interview with GQ, Robertson went on to say:

“Everything is blurred on what’s right and what’s wrong. Sin becomes fine. 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. 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.”


One should have a little less sympathy for A&E than Target. The latter surely has ample methods for protecting customers’ credit card information. But hacking is a cost of doing business in 2013, and there’s probably even insurance for it. Surely the retailer should have fessed up sooner, but corporate wheels can grind very slowly when they need to.

A&E, on the other hand had to know what it was getting into with the Robertsons. They are sly like foxes, but it’s exactly their rough edges and roguish behavior that makes them such a cable staple. The network gets some points for sending ol’ Uncle Phil to the woodshed, but really, what did you expect? Madison Avenue smoothness and political correctness? These guys look like ZZ Top without the guitars or showers.

Two major brands are taking hits, one for not handling its crisis with rapid transparency; the other for getting hoist by its own petard.


The content of this blog is about crisis management and mismanagement in a digital age. It originates with Steve Bell, who spent 30 years as a journalist for the Associated Press and in four top editor positions at The Buffalo News. He is now Partner/Director of Public Affairs at Eric Mower + Associates, one of the nation’s largest independent advertising, integrated marketing and public relations agencies, with seven offices in the Northeast and Southeast. Learn more about EMA at Steve’s blog is based on his own opinions and does not represent the views or positions of Eric Mower + Associates.


About steveoncrisis

The content is about crisis management and mismanagement in a digital age. It comes from Steve Bell, who spent 30 years as a journalist for the Associated Press and as managing editor and editorial page editor at The Buffalo News. Until recently, he was Senior Vice President and Managing Director of Crisis and Reputation Management at Mower, one of the nation's largest independent advertising, integrated marketing and public relations agency with nine offices in the Northeast and Southeast. He is now managing partner of Steve Bell Communications LLC.
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One Response to Target breach and Duck Dynasty comments cause crises of confidence

  1. Rick Lyke says:

    I don’t get it…

    Reality creeps into Duck Dynasty and A&E suspends Uncle Phil from its hit REALITY show? Unfortunately Uncle Jed is no longer available to fill in. Do they really expect a guy living in the wooded swamps of Louisiana will have Upper Eastside views on social issues?

    I think the bigger crisis is yet to be faced by GQ. Gentlemen’s Quarterly interviewing Uncle Phil? Is there a Duck Dynasty spread in the current issue? When Duck Dynasty t-shirts show up on shelves in Wal-Mart I just shrug. When these 15minutes of famers crack into one of the icons of fashion I cringe. Fire the editor.

    I long for the days when the only Duck Dynasty was controlled by Walt Disney.

    Rick Lyke, APR I Senior Partner

    1001 Morehead Square Dr., Fifth Floor, Charlotte, NC 28203
    P 704.916.6152 F 704.335.5804 C 704.340.2840 LinkedIn Twitter



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