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Frank Perdue
Tough man tender chicken.jpg
"It takes a tough man to make a tender chicken."
Born
Franklin Parsons Perdue

May 9, 1920
Died March 31, 2005 (aged 84)
Salisbury, Maryland
Other names Frank
Occupation President and CEO of Perdue Farms.

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.

Background

Frank was the only child of Arthur Perdue and Pearl Perdue (nee Parsons).

Career

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 at Salisbury University.

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

Advertising

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. Many 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.

Death

According to Perdue company officials, Perdue died on March 31, 2005, after a brief illness. He was 84.

Legacy

In 1983, Perdue received the Golden Plate Award of the American Academy of Achievement.

The Franklin P. Perdue School of Business was established at Salisbury University in 1986 and named for Frank Perdue.

In 1991, Frank Perdue was honored with an Edison Achievement Award for his commitment to innovation throughout his career.

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