A Kentucky company that made and marketed a licensed iced tea named after one of the “Duck Dynasty” stars has sued Duck Commander Inc. after filing for bankruptcy.
The complaint — filed in federal court in late December and spotted by The Wall Street Journal — claims that members of the Robertson family failed to follow through on promised promotions for the tea at public appearances and national television spots, although the beverage company’s Web site does feature a member of the family discussing the beverage on CNBC.
And, as The Wall Street Journal explains, Chinook USA also accuses Duck Commander — the Robertson family business — of making too many licensing deals, preventing it from keeping its promises.
Duck Commander hasn’t yet responded to the lawsuit.
If you watch “Duck Dynasty,” you’d know that Uncle Si Robertson drinks a lot of iced tea.
You’d also probably understand the reference in Chinook’s marketing for the product:
The people who would want to buy an iced tea with Uncle Si’s face on it are, presumably, people who watch “Duck Dynasty.” Sensing an overlap in clientele, the beverage launched at a NASCAR race in April. Apparently, it didn’t sell very well.
Chinook believes this has little to do with its product, and more to do with how Duck Commander managed its agreement with the company. The lawsuit accuses the Robertson family of breaking an agreement by not promoting the beverage at, among other places, a megachurch near Chinook’s Kentucky headquarters. It also claims that the family made conflicting license agreements with other beverage companies.
The 51-page complaint details several other alleged breaches of the agreement between Duck Commander and Chinook and contains some flourishes for dramatic effect — including several lines of original and re-purposed verse.
In the lawsuit, Chinook says it had an exclusive license for any “Duck Dynasty”-themed “iced tea, ready-to-drink (RTD) Teas, and RTD Beverages.” In exchange for the personal endorsement, Chinook was supposed to pay a “personal endorsement fee” of $1,000,000, along with other fees.
In all, the company said it spent more than $4.5 million launching the iced tea.
The “Duck Dynasty” family’s spread of licensed products has certainly garnered attention. A 2013 Forbes piece estimated that the family would take in $400 million in revenue by the end of that year.
Although the A&E show still holds a culturally significant space in some circles, it’s worth noting that the program’s ratings have been on a decline since mid-2013.
You can read more about that in this December piece by The Washington Post’s Emily Yahr: A year ago, ‘Duck Dynasty’ was inescapable. Now, no one cares.
And here is a video from Chinook about its Duck Commander deal. “Let’s go sell a ton of tea, build Uncle Si ‘the icon,’ and have fun,” the company wrote.