Parting with Paula is a bittersweet affair for Walmart
Paula Deen fell from grace this week faster than a slab of butter melting in one of her opening price point pans Walmart no longer sells.
Walmart, as well as Home Depot, Target and Smithfield Foods, sought to distance themselves from Deen after racist comments she made during a deposition came to light and she was canned by the Food Network.
Deen’s demise is a loss for Walmart because despite her grating nasal voice, excessive usage of the word "y’all" and fat-laden recipes she was a relatable personality that resonated with Walmart’s core customers, many of whom will be unhappy her products are no longer available on the retailer’s shelves.
Walmart had sold products bearing Deen’s likeness for years and as a testament to her popularity during the 2011 holiday season featured her 20-piece Paula Deen cookware set for $86.44 as one of its doorbuster items. A little more than two months ago, Deen was in Walmart’s hometown of Bentonville, Ark., to receive a key to the city from mayor Bob McCaslin, meet with Walmart, tout a new line of prepared foods and attend an American Heart Association event.
Deen had begun to turn over a new leaf as a more healthful cook which helped her better align with Walmarts’ desire to make food healthier and healthier food more affordable. She had introduced a new book, "Paula Deen's New Testament: 250 Recipes, All Lightened Up," and become a spokesperson for diabetes drug manufacturer Novo Nordisk. During her Bentonville visit, Deen said it was an honor to help the Heart Association and went so far as to claim it was a personal mission of hers was to encourage kids to get more physically active and eat healthier.
Deen’s poor choice of words resulted in a sudden fall from grace, but don’t count her out. She has been on a whirlwind damage control tour and even the most vilified of celebrities, athletes and politicians (Martha Stewart, Tiger Woods, Bill Clinton) have a way of bouncing back.