How has Paula Deen’s Diabetes Announcement Affected her Brand?

On January 17th, Paula Deen announced that she had been living with Type 2 Diabetes for three years. As her brand has been built on southern-style comfort—and has never purported to be healthy—how did consumers respond?

 Our analysis of more than 17,000 Twitter and Facebook posts shows that 47% of the conversation is negative; specifically, this sentiment is almost equally divided between:

  • Accusations that the announcement was a marketing ploy for Novo Nordisk (with whom Deen announced a formal partnership at the same time she confirmed her diagnosis)
  • Accusations that she knew she promoted a diabetes-inducing diet
  • Accusations that she “sends a poor message” to the public about health
  • Declarations stating they would no longer watch Deen’s show or buy her products
  • Other general negative comments

At 29%, neutral opinions are the second-largest driver of volume within the conversation. Eight percent of the conversation is simply passing along the news, 14% “aren’t surprised” but pass no specific judgement, and another 8% believe Deen has the opportunity to promote healthy living now that she’s announced the news.

Positive opinions account for the smallest percentage of volume. Among the 23% of pro-Deen opinions, 6% will still watch her show, 5% believe that people can successfully consume her recipes in moderation, and 14% simply wish her the best.

In addition, it’s interesting to note the geographical distribution of the conversation. Let’s just say we’re not surprised.

Taryn Scott also contributed to this blog post

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