Thursday, March 30, 2017

Chicken Man Frank Perdue

Franklin Parsons "Frank" Perdue (May 9, 1920 – March 31, 2005), born in Salisbury, Maryland, was for many years the president and CEO of Perdue Farms, now one of the largest chicken-producing companies in the United States.

                                                      Frank Perdue with a chick

Perdue Farms was founded in 1920 by Arthur Perdue with his wife, Pearl Perdue who had been keeping a small flock of chickens. Their son, Frank, joined the company in 1939 at age 19 after dropping out of college.

Now recognized as a visionary, Frank Perdue's promotion of the Perdue brand through high-profile advertising resulted in its being the first well-known brand of chicken in the U.S. He turned over leadership of Perdue Farms to his son, Jim Perdue, in 1991.

Perdue Farms developed a specialized chicken-feed that included marigold blossoms, which imparted a characteristic golden yellow hue to the skins of his chickens.

In the 1980s the visionary Perdue twice sought assistance from then-Mafia boss Paul Castellano Sr. to fend off a union's effort to represent workers at his company, according to a federal commission on labor corruption.


In 1971, Perdue Farm embarked on its first major advertising campaign and had contracted the firm of Scali, McCabe, Sloves. The firm came up with the idea of putting Perdue on television himself, with the tag line, "It takes a tough man to make a tender chicken." This was fairly radical because at the time, CEOs were not usually public spokespersons for their firms. The first commercial, shot in the city park in Salisbury, was ranked by Advertising Age as one of the best campaigns of the year. It was so successful that he went on to appear in over 200 of Perdue Farms' television commercials, although he was known for his shyness as well. Much of the commercials were known for Perdue actually encouraging people to voice any complaints or dissatisfaction with Perdue products, usually ending with Perdue stating "Say whatever you have to say; I can take it.”

Through this advertising, Perdue is credited with creating the first brand for chicken.

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