Selling Celebrity: How the Duck Dynasty Controversy Can Get More of Your Emails Opened…

Published on January 2, 2014 by


Duck Dynasty

Duck Dynasty via Wikipeda

No, I'm not taking sides here...

If you've gone through my email copywriting program, Email Copy Made Easy, then you know that 2 subjects you want to stay away from are politics and religion. And this issue smacks of both.

But what I do want to point out is the power of celebrity to get people fired up. Consider this...

Duck Dynasty has broken numerous rating records on cable, often out-pulling powerhouses like American Idol with multiple millions of viewers.

And the merchandising machine is in full steam. You can barely go anywhere without seeing one of these bearded wonders peering at you from some sort of product.

So what does that mean? 2 things:

--People know these people
--People like these people

Now add a dash of controversy, stir, and what do you get? The recipe for an email copy MASTERPIECE. And here's why...

In my experience, I've found that most people are fascinated by celebrity. They have a voracious appetite for anything to do with Hollywood gossip, what star is dating who, and how they live their lives (the wackier the better)...

I've experienced this firsthand. I live in a relatively rural area of Midwest where Brad Pitt grew up, and the Brangelina crew occasionally makes it back home to visit the folks.

Usually their visits are very hush-hush to keep things from getting too crazy. But if they pop up in town somewhere? WHOA NELLY...

A few years ago, the whole crew hit a local K-Mart to pick up some holiday gifts, and then Angelina stopped into a nearby Barnes and Noble for a few minutes.

You would have thought the world had ended. The local Twitter/Facebook-sphere nearly imploded with posts and smartphone pics, and within minutes it had gone totally viral.

The star-struck audience couldn't get enough. And why? Because they're CELEBRITIES. And that makes them special.

Now we have the Duck Dynasty thing, and it's turning the social media world into a frenzy of heated arguments and pointed fingers. Which is the PERFECT scenario for you and your marketing efforts--if you know how to take advantage of it.

So let's try an experiment: If you have a primarily B2C (Business to consumer) list, next time you send out an email, try this subject line:

"Wonder what the Duck Dynasty guy would say about THIS..."

And watch what happens.

Doesn't really matter what it's for. Could be a sale, some great content, a special announcement, whatever. Truth be told, you can work that subject line to fit into virtually any type of email copy for any type of product.

But my guess is your open rate will be through the roof.

Because you're taking a super-hot and extremely volatile topic and making it work for YOUR BUSINESS by tapping into the celebrity-obsessed mindset of the American public. They'll open because they just HAVE to know what's inside.

As one of the world's leading email and autoresponder copywriters, I've worked this to my client's benefit many times. Recently, in the golf market, I wrote an email with the subject line:

"Tiger called his swing 'frightening'..."

The open rate was NUTS, around 80%. Because Tiger Woods is a god in the golf world, and the golf addicts had to know. Whose swing? What else did Tiger say? What is this all about?

And just like that, almost everybody who got the email was ripping it open, reading with full engagement, and lapping up the marketing message like a thirsty puppy.

Candy from a baby. 🙂

So next time your open rates are dipping, put a little celebrity sizzle into the mix and watch them clamor to get inside and read your stuff.

And go ahead--test that Duck Dynasty subject line out, then post below and let me know the results. Can't wait to see how it does for you.

Because inquiring minds want to know. 😉


Jay White Jay White is an email marketing copywriter, consultant, trainer and speaker who trains copywriters and online business owners on how to write sizzling hot emails that get opened, get read, and get click-throughs. If you want a FREE video where Jay reveals 5 simple tweaks you can make to your email copy to boost conversions and increase profits, click here NOW!


  1. […] Read Jay’s blog post on how to use celebrities to promote. […]

  2. Michelle Hutchinson

    Jay, this sounds like pandering to me, especially your example of the subject line "Tiger called his swing 'frightening'..." Did that email have anything to do with gold or Tiger Woods, or was it simply a trick to get people to open your email? Most people don't like being tricked, and if you trick them too often, I believe they will unsubscribe from your distribution list.

    • Jay White

      Absolutely not, Michelle. As I stated in the blog post, that Tiger Woods email was for a golf product mailed to an audience of golfers. So there was no trickery involved. His quote is well documented in a video from ESPN that is also part of the selling process of this product. So it's all above board. For what it's worth, I don't work that way, or write for clients who do.

      The subject line has to be referenced somehow in the email copy. For example, here's how I might start an email using the Duck Dynasty line...


      SUBJECT: Wonder what the Duck Dynasty guy would say about this...

      Hey there--it's MARKETER NAME from URL, with a quick question--have you been watching this whole Duck Dynasty controversy?

      Because one of the guys from that hit show has gotten himself in some SERIOUS hot water with a few eyebrow raising comments. And it's polarizing the entire nation.

      Amazing how one man can generate such a huge reaction from millions of people like that. But it got me thinking...

      I wonder what he would say about THIS?



      There would be more, but that's a basic idea. Of course, the offer inside the link would need to at least be a little "controversial" or "eyebrow raising" in its own right, or I wouldn't use this. Maybe a one time only deal or a special sale. And I wouldn't suggest an email like this going to a list that doesn't know the marketer. There needs to be a know/like/trust factor involved here. I should have probably made that clearer in the blog post--my bad.

      At any rate, this technique is not meant to mislead people. It's meant to connect a current event or hot news item with a specific action the marketer is trying to get the reader to take. And in my experience, it's worked extremely well to get a lot of emails opened, without repercussions or fear of massive opt-outs.

      Appreciate your comments,


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