Celebrity Chef Paula Deen, recently diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, has broken the first rule of 21st Century marketing — always be transparent. Ms. Deen, often criticized by food critics and chefs for her calorie-packed recipes, disclosed on Tuesday that she has had Type 2 diabetes for nearly three years. Obesity increases people’s risk for Type 2 diabetes.
Anthony Bourdain, who called Deen the “most dangerous person to America” who’s “proud of the fact that her food is f**king bad for you” took to the blogosphere to point out duplicity of a celebrity chef promoting Deep-Fried Mac and Cheese at the same time that she was seeking treatment for her diabetes.
The Wall Street Journal reports that many comments on Twitter echoed Mr. Bourdain’s sentiment. “I think it’s completely gross that Paula Deen made $$$ pushing food that makes you sick and will now make $$$ pushing the medication for it,” read one Tweet.
It’s safe to say that Ms. Deen has a brand management problem. She’s broken the first rule of 21st century marketing, which is to be clear, transparent and honest in your dealings with the public.
In the past, scandalous stories were often hidden or swept under the rug. (President Kennedy was one of the more notable beneficiaries of stories that never saw the light of day.) Today, because of digital media, negative stories spread much more quickly and have much greater impact on celebrity brands.
The solution, of course, is to be entirely transparent in dealing with the public. If Ms. Deen had come clean when she was first diagnosed — or, if she had just said, “My food choices have, in part, lead to this disease and therefore I’m going to change my ways” — then the public would have been much more forgiving.
My Offer to Ms. Deen — Brand Management Training Free of Charge. I have helped organizations as large as AT&T and The Coca-Cola Company develop branding campaigns that promote the best aspects of their products and services. Ms. Deen isn’t all bad. In fact, with the right training, she could use this as an opportunity to build awareness for healthy cooking and diabetes management.
With that in mind, I’m offering brand management training for Ms. Deen and her team of social media and branding specialists. The training would provide Ms. Deen the opportunity to address her current situation and to be fully transparent as she moves forward.
During my training, we would create a recipe for success by reviewing the key ingredients of branding, the essential elements of positioning, the primary components of reputation management and the importance of being fully transparent with your constituents.
How Ms. Deen Can Reach Me. I’m not making light of Ms. Deen’s health problems — I understand diabetes since it runs in my family. I am, however, encouraging Ms. Deen to take my offer of brand management training seriously and to call me at her earliest convenience.
I can be reached via email or by calling the number listed on the 60 Second Marketer contact page. I will be happy to drop what I’m doing and devote the next 3 days exclusively to Ms. Deen.
Posted by Jamie Turner, Founder of the 60 Second Marketer and co-author of “How to Make Money with Social Media” and “Go Mobile.” He is also a popular marketing speaker at events, trade shows and corporations around the globe.