It was the diagnosis heard round the world, after days-weeks-months of speculation. And for some, years of -- duh!
Paula Deen officially announced yesterday that she has Type II Diabetes. She also simultaneously announced a partnership with a diabetes drug to help educate Americans on how to live with diabetes and how to live more healthy in general. Oh -- and a mention about how her son has already been promoting more healthy recipes as his own brand of "chef."
This coming from the often criticized Queen of Butter. As I've been following this story the last few days, particularly in social media, it's amazing to see the range of reactions.
Sure, some feel badly for her. Not many from what I can tell. Although I am sure that there are many many fans that are pumping through letters of support to her. I'm not sure that Al Roker from The Today Show is one of them by the tone of his interview yesterday.
Most people were not shocked, given her eating habits and her recipes. I mean -- a burger with bacon and an egg between two Krispy Kreme donuts? Wow! Many said that with that lifestyle, she should have known it was coming. She's had more than her fair share of criticism from nutritionists, other chefs, you name it.
Many, though, were down right mad. The way she announced it seemed oh so contrived and planned. Not at all authentic, something that is becoming a requirement for a brand to survive these days. Once we knew that she knew for years now (some say since 2008), and yet kept up those tv shows ... anger set in.
For me, from a marketing perspective .... sad. Sad to see the person behind a brand not well. Sad to see how she manipulated her lifestyle and her fan base to orchestrate the next move of her brand. Sad to see that basically her health is for sale (as one of my friends on Twitter so adeptly commented). I think that's crossing the line, and I think that's why we are seeing the range of reactions.
I am not in her target market, and I am not a fan personally. But as a marketer, I hope that it all turns out ok. I hope she stays well. And I hope, in the end, that she is able to help her fan base turn their lives around too. They could use the help, and she does have the power. She's just going to have to do that in a much more transparent and honest way for her "brand" to continue successfully.
You can read a little more about the saga here. Stay well.
What's your experience? Jim.
President of Lippe Taylor
Author of The Experience Effect
Professor at NYU