Monday, June 24, 2013

Should Novo Nordisk Dump Deen?

UPDATE (27 June 2013): Novo Nordisk "Dumps" ... err, "Suspends" Deen:
"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."
By now everyone should know that Paula Deen -- celebrity chef and Novo Nordisk's Victoza diabetes drug spokesperson -- admitted in a videotaped deposition as part of a discrimination suit that “Yes, of course,” she has used the "N" word.

As a result, the Food Network has opted not to continue her contract. Should Novo also "dump Deen?"

Some time ago, before this latest Deen PR fiasco erupted, I asked if the Novo Nordisk deal with Paula Deen was "Brilliant or Dumb?" (see here). To date, the responses are evenly split between "brilliant" and "dumb." If you haven't already taken this poll, here it is again:

From a marketing perspective, is the Novo Nordisk deal with Paula Deen Brilliant or Dumb?
It remains to be seen.


You can also listen to a 2-minute audio snippet of my interview of Ambre Morley, Associate Director, Product Communications, Novo Nordisk, in which she talks about vetting Paula Deen as a paid celebrity spokesperson for the Novo's Victoza diabetes drug franchise and the importance of measuring celebrity return on investment (ROI). Listen here.

In light of all the new negative publicity and comments surrounding Deen (see videos below), perhaps Deen's ROI has reached a point of diminishing returns and Novo should dump her immediately -- I hope there is a clause in her contract with Novo that permits this before the contract expires.

Here are a couple of brilliant Daily Show pieces about Deen and the N word (I did not know that her family once owned 35 slaves -- "That's a lot," says Deen. But at least it's less than the number of slaves owned by Thomas Jefferson.):

Meanwhile, here's Deen's strangely edited "apology":


  1. Let's add some perspective here. Paula Deen was raised in the deep South and 20 or 30 years ago she said NIGGER.

    Paula's worst crimes are the food she makes but the boggest criminal ever are the pharmaceutical companies.

    I really doubt that she's a racist in any way, shape or form. The disgrutled gold digger employee suing her is Black. Last I knew bigots did not hire minorities.

    Novo Nordisk loves Paula because her cooking style is a huge cause of obesity and diabetes.

  2. When I was growing up (in the 1960s), we (in the northeastern US) were told that what we now call "the n-word" was Southern dialectal pronunciation for "Negro" (as in, "American Negro College Fund", benefiting African-Americans). We were taught that in that context, it didn't have the derogatory connotations that it had in the Northeast.

    Today, there are a lot of Americans of African descent, whose families have lived in the US for generations, who use a version of that word to describe themselves (see Aaron McGruder's The Boondocks comic strip and Adult Swim TV series); for many of them, it's OK as long as it is one of them talking about themselves. But heavens forbid that one not of their ethnic group use that same word, regardless of whether it ends in "-a" or "-er".

    Are we retroactively punishing people for using language that was acceptable at the time and place it was used, many years ago — or are we talking about new uses of the word? (And for what it's worth, I find it more offensive to hear someone reporting on the event using the phrase "the n-word" than using the actual word in context (I feel the same about other epithets, obscenities, and profanities). In other words, I believe in "Calling a spade 'a spade'" (as opposed to, say, "a pointed digging implement used for removing soil prior to planting").


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