Celebrity Chef Paula Deen’s confession that she has used the “N word” and told jokes that could be perceived as racist during a video deposition as part of a $1.2 million lawsuit filed against her by a former employee has landed her in a mess of trouble and it seems she just can’t bail herself out. When trying to rationalize why she told racial jokes she replied, “It’s just what they are – they’re jokes… most jokes are about Jewish people, rednecks, black folks…Gays or straights, black, redneck, you know. I just don’t know – I just don’t know what to say. I can’t, myself, determine what offends another person.”
However, some of her sponsors can. Shortly after Paula’s testimony went public, the Food Network dropped the star from its lineup. The next sponsor to dissolve its contract with Paula was Smithfield Foods, the world’s largest producer of pork. According to a statement released by the company, “Smithfield condemns the use of offensive and discriminatory language and behavior of any kind. Therefore, we are terminating our partnership with Paula Deen.”
Who will be the next company to drop the “Butter Queen?” The Wall Street Journal speculates it may be Novo Nordisk. The drug company hired Paula to be the spokesperson for its Type 2 diabetes drug Victoza. The announcement sent waves of controversy across the country because Paula’s claim to fame is preparing high-fat, high-calorie recipes. She vowed to use the opportunity to tone down her recipes for lighter preparations.
It didn’t help that Victoza is also among a class of type 2 diabetes drugs known as incretin mimetics that have been found in recent studies to increase the risk for acute pancreatitis, pancreatic cancer and thyroid cancer. Byetta and Januvia pose the greatest risk for adverse pancreatic effects.
Will two strikes cause Novo Nordisk to consider dropping its spokesperson? According to the Wall Street Journal, the drug company puts a lot of resources into corporate diversity and brings diabetes testing and awareness to events that target African Americans and racial minorities. And while it is possible for celebrities to be forgiven by fans, it takes a well-fueled public relations effort to achieve that goal.