The latest twist in the “Duck Dynasty” controversy involves poultry, but this time it’s connected to chicken, not ducks.
Just two days before Christmas, an unnamed group launched a social media-based campaign to show support for Duck Commander Phil Robertson. The National Chick-Phil-A Day Facebook page is asking the show’s fans or those who want to support Robertson, to eat at Chick-fil-A restaurants on January 21.
The invitation tells supporters; “Stand For Free Speech. Sit For Good Food.” It goes on to include a couple of simple instructions on what to do on the day:
1. Wear your Duck Commander or camouflage gear.
2. Eat at Chick-fil-A.
The event page connected to the Chick-Phil-A Day post about the January 21 dine-in already has tabulated more than 42,000 RSVPs.
The Facebook page created to spread the news about the grassroots campaign / protest is quick to point out that the event is not affiliated with Chick-fil-A restaurants.
On Christmas Day, the gossip website TMZ reported on the National Chick-Phil-A Day movement but said “Chick-fil-A says Chick-Phil-A was created by an ‘independent group’ … though at this point, no group has come forward to take credit.”
Considering the top of the Facebook page for the event contains an email address, we found that idea a little odd. So we decided to reach out. And we got a response.
Less than an hour after reaching out, TheBlaze spoke with the person who claims to be behind National-Chick-Phil-A Day. His name is Eric Odom. When we asked Odom if he had spoken with TMZ, he told us that he had frequent contact with the site and even asked them to correct the misstatement about no group taking credit for National Chick-Phil-A Day. So far that hasn’t happened.
Odom works as the director of interactive media for Grassfire.com, but stresses that the Phil Robertson support has been a personal endeavor. Almost immediately after hearing about A&E’s “indefinite suspension” of the “Duck Dynasty” star, Odom created Facebook pages, and ultimately the Chick-fil-A event. It’s all, he says, because he supports Phil Robertson’s right to express his opinions.
The BackPhil.com campaign and petition were the first online support campaign that a group at Grassfire.com created to support Robertson. Odom used his Facebook pages to promote the petition. It has generated more than 400,000 electronic signatures. These petitions were delivered to A&E’s offices on Monday, December 22.
In addition to supporting the petition, he’s also the person behind The Facebook page We Stand With Phil. That page has more than 1.5 million “likes.”
It was not long after the delivery of the petitions that Odom says his inbox was flooded with people saying, “we have to do something more to support Phil.” That’s when he realized that “supporting Robertson needed to go beyond ‘liking’ the Facebook page or signing a petition,” he told TheBlaze.
He compared the Robertson controversy to what happened to Chick-fil-A’s President Dan Cathy after he commented on gay marriage in 2012.
“I see them [the comments made by Robertson and Cathy] as similar, not discriminating. They are just expressing their opinions” said Odom. He recalled the huge outpouring of public support for Chick-fil-A on Aug. 1 of 2012 when thousands of people visited Chick-fil-A restaurants around the country.
After making the connection in his head, Odom came up with ”National Chick-Phil-A Day.” When asked if the date, January 21, carried any special significance, Odom said it was just about “giving people time to plan to be there and to get the word out.”
Will National Chick-Phil-A Day be as well attended as the Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day from August of 2012? Time will tell. Both seem to appeal to the same kind of consumer, so it is possible that the national chicken restaurant chain could see a considerable spike in business on Tuesday, January 21 — even if the company isn’t officially supporting it.
TheBlaze will be watching.
Editor’s note: This story was modified to correct a link to Grassfire.com and clarify that a group at Grassfire created the IBackPhil.com petition site.
Follow Mike Opelka on Twitter – @Stuntbrain