Paula Deen has been a household name for many years. She is a renowned celebrity chef, cooking show host, resteraunteur, author actress and Emmy award winning television personality. As a result of past comments allegedly made in her past, Paula Deen’s character and overall brand has been and continues to unravel before mainstream and social media.
It all started with a civil lawsuit was filed, March 6, 2012 against Paula Deen and her brother for the using the N-word and discriminatory words in front of their employees. The law suit was filed by a former employee, Lisa Jackson.
Once testimony from the disposition, and documents released into the news media of Paula Deen admitting to using the N-word, the Deen brand has been under attack. Deen also confessed to requesting that black employees dress up as slaves for an antebellum-themed wedding, and claimed that she got the idea from a restaurant where the waiters were all “middle-agedblack men, and they had on beautiful black jackets with a black bow tie…I would say they were slaves.”
June 20, 2013 Deen only digs herself in a deeper hole when she tries to rationalize the use of the -word on a television interview. Deen had “recounted having used a racial epithet in the past, speaking largely about a time in American history which was quite different than today.” She was “born 60 years ago when America’s South had schools that were segregated, different bathrooms, different restaurants and Americans rode in different parts of the bus. This is not today. To be clear Ms. Deen does not find acceptable the use of this term under any circumstance by anyone nor condone any form of racism or discrimination.”
Although Deen attempted to make a public apology on the Today Show, allegations continued to overshadow her apology and more criticisms arrived around the authenticity of the apology.
Stories and allegations have continued to circulate in the news media from, former employees claiming Deen stole recipes and paid cooks minimum wage, racial slurs against President Obama, dressing employees like Aunt Jemima.
All these allegations and Deen’s response in the media has resulted in destroying her image/brand, but more importantly her financial empire. One of the major consequence of her behaviour was the Food Network who launched Deen career into stardom announced they were not renewing her contract after 11 years on air. The below infographic briefly highlights, which of Deen partners in business have dropped her, kept her and are still on the fence after the N-word controversy.
- First of all, the entire Deen family would have initially not been allowed to respond via television or social media without a media training and crisis response strategy being put in place. This would be done to ensure Deen and her family use the appropriate tone and body language, language in the media.
- Deen would make a public appearance on a television show where she would first acknowledge and explain why she was wrong for using that type of language and behaviour. Thereafter apologize on news and social media.
- Lastly, Deen would work on rebuilding her image and relationship with the audience she initially discriminated against. For example, she could donate profit from one of her brands to a charity/cause that deals with African American population or create culinary scholarships/contents for underprivileged youth minorities seeking a career in culinary.