Companies Say N-O to Paula Deen's Use of the N-Word

Five major brands tell DiversityInc that they are reviewing, or will discontinue, agreements with her.

By Manuel McDonnell Smith


*This story has been updated on 6/28/13 (11 a.m. ET) to reflect the additional companies that have ended their business relationships with Paula Deen since this article was originally published.

As fallout continues over celebrity chef Paula Deen's use of the N-word, some of her business partners are using their own N-word to describe their ongoing relationship with her: no. Here's a roundup of what companies have had to say regarding their business dealings with Deen:

Smithfield Foods, which carries a line of hams bearing Deen's name:

"Smithfield condemns the use of offensive and discriminatory language and behavior of any kind. Therefore, we are terminating our partnership with Paula Deen. Smithfield is determined to be an ethical food-industry leader, and it is important that our values and those of our spokespeople are properly aligned."

QVC, which features Deen-branded products on its home-shopping network:

"QVC shares the concerns being raised around the unfortunate Paula Deen situation. QVC does not tolerate discriminatory behavior. We are closely monitoring these events and the ongoing litigation. We are reviewing our business relationship with Ms. Deen, and in the meantime, we have no immediate plans to have her appear on QVC."

Scripps Networks Interactive, owner of Food Network, has not made additional comment regarding its relationship with Deen after announcing last Friday that the company would not renew her contract when it expires at the end of this month—despite a flood of comments on the network's Facebook page from fans of her show expressing disapproval over the network's dismissal of the popular host.

On Wednesday, big-box retailer Walmart, which carries a line of Deen-branded products, announced, "We are ending our relationship with Paula Deen Enterprises and we will not place new orders beyond those already committed."

Likewise, home improvement chain Home Depot announced on Wednesday that they are severing business ties with Deen and her companies.

Earlier in the day, Caesars Entertainment disclosed that the company and Deen had "mutually decided" not to renew their business relationship. Caesars operates Paula Deen Buffets in four of its casinos.

Target joined their fellow retailers on Thursday, telling DiversityInc: "We have made a decision to phase out the Paula Deen merchandise in our stores as well as on Target.com. Once the merchandise is sold out, we will not be replenishing inventory."

After earlier standing behind Deen, pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk had a change of heart Thursday (for now, at least), announcing that they've "mutually agreed to suspend our patient education activities for now." (On Tuesday, Novo Nordisk told DiversityInc, in a statement: "Paula Deen is still a product spokesperson for the Victoza brand. We recognize the seriousness of these allegations and will follow the legal proceedings closely, staying in contact with her. As a company committed to improving the lives of people with diabetes, Novo Nordisk engaged Deen as a spokeswoman because of her commitment to increasing awareness about diabetes to millions of people in this country. We do not condone racial intolerance of any kind and have spoken to Paula about her comments in the deposition. While she takes a more proactive approach to clearing up her comments, our focus will continue to be to provide the best care possible to all of our patients where we work and live. Diversity and inclusion are part of who we are. We embrace different perspectives and ways of thinking to help us best serve our patients.")

On Friday, Sears Holdings (which owns Kmart, which carries a line of Deen-branded housewars), completed its review of its relationship with Deen and announced: "After careful consideration of all available information, we have made the decision to phase out all products tied to the brand. We will continue to evaluate the situation. Our members' needs will be given first priority as we work to continue to provide quality cookware in our stores and online."

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