I know I said in comments that I would not be posting about Paula Deen again, but I think this is an important update, so I take it back!
It looks like the southern comfort food queen’s apology tour isn’t going very well at all. Which isn’t a surprise. On the Today show with Matt Lauer yesterday morning, she basically blamed her use of the N word on the black teenagers in her kitchen who claims sling the word around. Oy. She has reportedly hired PR firm that specializes in crisis management as she continues to lose sponsors.
So far, she’s been fired from the Food Network, lost a deal with Smithfield Hams. Yesterday, Wal-mart and Home Depot and Caesars Entertainment dropped her.
“We are ending our relationship with Paula Deen Enterprises and we will not place new orders beyond those already committed,” Walmart said Wednesday in a corporate statement. “We will work with suppliers to address existing inventories and agreements.”
Caesars will be re-branding the 4 restaurants in Las Vegas that Paula endorsed. “While we appreciate Paula’s sincere apologies for statements she made in her past that she recently disclosed during a deposition given in response to a lawsuit, after thoughtful consideration of their impact,” the company said in a statement, “we have mutually decided that it is in the best interests of both parties to part ways at this time.”
Now, today, Paula has been given the heave-ho by Target and the diabetes drug company she was shilling for. The drug endorsement caused a lot of controversy. She had the disease for years while she continued to promote high calorie, high fat foods, and only fessed up when the drug endorsement materialized.
“Novo Nordisk and Paula Deen have mutually agreed to suspend our patient education activities for now, while she takes time to focus her attention where it is needed. Novo Nordisk would like to acknowledge Paula’s involvement in our ‘Diabetes in a New Light’ campaign, where she has helped make many people aware of type 2 diabetes and the lifestyle changes needed to control this serious disease,” said a statement released by the company.
“We have made a decision to phase out the Paula Deen merchandise in our stores as well as on Target.com,” Target told CNBC on Thursday.
There is a sliver of good news for the embattled chef. Her Georgia restaurants still have lines around the block of folks waiting to get in, and her cookbooks have skyrocketed up the charts. Her new book coming out in October called, Paula Deen’s New Testament: 250 Favorite Recipes, All Lightened Up has hit #1 on the Amazon Best Sellers list. OK then.
If Paula can get her PR shit together, she may eventually work her way back into the mainstream. She’ll never be as big a star as she once was–the diabetes and N-word scandals were like a one-two punch–but her empire won’t totally collapse. She may even find her way back onto television at some point. Americans are a very forgiving people if they receive the right apology. And everyone loves a comeback.