UPDATE, 1:40 PM: It doesn’t seem to matter that Paula Deen’s New Testament: 250 Favorite Recipes, All Lightened Up is Amazon’s best-selling book ahead of its scheduled publication in October. Random House’s Ballantine Books says today that it’s cancelling its plans for the cookbook, Publishers Weekly reports. Deen jumped to Ballantine from Simon & Schuster last year.
PREVIOUS, 11:40: Now J.C. Penney is leaving the Paula Deen business, the Dallas Morning News reports. The paper says that the chain sells Deen-branded cookware and carries a broader array of her merchandise in hundreds of its smaller stores.
PREVIOUS, 8:15 AM: Sears Holdings, which owns Sears and Kmart, says that it will “phase out” all of its Paula Deen merchandise and “will continue to evaluate the situation.” Walgreens also says that it’s phasing out Deen-branded goods which include mixes, seasonings and butter.
PREVIOUS, THURSDAY PM: QVC CEO Mike George says in a blog post that “for now” Paula Deen “won’t be appearing on any upcoming broadcasts and we will phase out her product assortment on our online sales channels over the next few months.” The site offers a Deen-branded line of cookware. The shopping channel chief adds that “People deserve second chances. And we always strive to do the right thing.” Following his note, Deen writes one of her own expressing appreciation for “the caring way that QVC has interacted with me over the past week.” She also says that she has “some important things to work on right now, both personally and professionally” and agreed that “it’s best for me to step back from QVC and focus on setting things right.” Deen says that she is “truly sorry and assure you I will work hard to earn your forgiveness.”
PREVIOUS, THURSDAY AM: Target says it will “phase out” the Paula Deen cookware and merchandise in its stores and online. Meanwhile, pharmaceutical manufacturer Novo Nordisk, which had teamed with the celebrity chef to promote Victoza — a drug for diabetics — says that it and Deen “have mutually agreed to suspend our patient education activities for now, while she takes time to focus her attention where it is needed.” The company had initially said that it would stand by Deen.
PREVIOUS, WEDNESDAY PM: Walmart now has dropped out, potentially costing Paula Deen revenues from a product line that includes eyeglasses, cookware, and baked goods. The retail giant says that it is “ending our relationship with Paula Deen Enterprises and we will not place new orders beyond those already committed.” Meanwhile the celebrity chef has received statements of support from Epicurean Butter, IQ Craft, Club Marketing Services, Harvest NA, Landies Candies, and Sandridge Food, Bloomberg BusinessWeek reports. The statement from Tasty Blend Foods praised Deen’s “commitment and how she stepped up and apologized to her viewers, fans and the nation. We personally endorse Paula Deen and what she stands for. We are very saddened that she is being judged by her past, everyone has made a mistake sometime in their lives.”
PREVIOUS, 12:10 PM: Add Caesars Entertainment to the list of companies that have severed ties to Paula Deen Inc. The company says today that it “has reached a mutual agreement with Paula Deen Enterprises” not to renew their deal to operate four Paula Deen-themed buffets. Caesars says it will rebrand the existing ones at Louisville’s Horseshoe Southern Indiana, Memphis’ Harrah’s Tunica, Chicago’s Harrah’s Joliet, and North Carolina’s Harrah’s Cherokee. “While we appreciate Paula’s sincere apologies for statements she made in her past that she recently disclosed during a deposition given in response to a lawsuit, after thoughtful consideration of their impact, we have mutually decided that it is in the best interests of both parties to part ways at this time,” says EVP Communications and Government Affairs Jan Jones Blackhurst.
PREVIOUS, MONDAY PM: QVC now says that it is “reviewing our business relationship” with Paula Deen and has “no immediate plans to have her appear” on the shopping network. QVC adds that it “does not tolerate discriminatory behavior.” It increasingly looks that, if the celebrity chef wants to save her multimillion-dollar licensing and endorsement empire, she needs to do it on NBC’s Today show this Wednesday. Deen generated about $9.9M in 2010 from speaking engagements, licensing agreements, TV, magazines, books and other deals, according to estimates. But Paula Deen Inc could collapse after the Food Network’s decision last week to not renew her contract when it expires this month. Smithfield Foods, the world’s biggest pork producer, terminated its contrac with Deen today. Meanwhile, Universal Furniture, which offers the Paula Deen Home furniture line, told its dealers today that it will see how things play out before it decides what to do.
Deen generated an estimated $3M in 2010 from licensing deals with partners including Kaleen Rugs, Serta mattresses, and Walmart. Her empire has grown since then and now includes branded chicken from Springer Mountain Farms and prescription eyeglasses with Walmart. License deals typically give companies an out if the celebrity endorser does something that might injure the brand. Meanwhile, speaking engagements accounted for $5.5M in Deen’s 2010 revenues; she reportedly makes as much as $100,000 for an appearance.Deen already has apologized twice publicly in videos for her use of racial slurs including the N-word which came to light in a legal deposition filed last week on federal court. Having the word “racism” as part of the national conversation puts Deen’s case “on a different plane” compared to other celebrity endorsers touched by scandal, according to International Licensing Merchandisers’ Association SVP Martin Brochstein. “There’s a reason why a lot of licensors prefer to deal with animated characters.”
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