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The Butter Queen Is Back, Y'all
By: Jennifer Graber
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The past year or so has not been a good one for Southern butter queen, Paula Deen. It was revealed that Deen had received a diagnosis of Type II Diabetes. That diagnosis was ironic considering the copious amounts of butter and mayonnaise she dolloped in and on her recipes. And then there was that teensy scandal. You might have heard of it? You know, the one where her racism was put on blast as Deen took the witness stand in a harassment and discrimination trial? Due to that scandal Deen lost endorsement deal upon endorsement deal, had products pulled from store shelves, saw a decline in brand value, faced public ridicule, and more. But be on the lookout, because this Southern belle just might be back quicker than the ice melts in lemonade on a hot day.
Deen is making an attempt to bounce back by partnering with the private investment firm Najafi Companies. Najafi Companies is based out of Phoenix, Arizona and is led by Jahm Najafi. Najafi also represents the Phoenix Suns, Sky Mall, and more. This new partnership is worth upwards of $75 million and will effectively create a new company for Deen called Paula Deen Ventures. This “umbrella company” will manage Deen’s restaurants, endorsement deals, products, media, and so forth. Najafi is allegedly banking on the tight-knit, and steadfast, fan base of Deen to make this investment a real success. And that really will be the key; reaching out to and appealing to those loyal few who have stuck around through the Southerner’s trials and tribulations.
But will the loyal few be enough to sustain Deen’s brand? Deen has apologized for her previous transgressions. There also has been a significant amount of time that has passed since the trial/witness stand debacle. After all, time heals all wounds — or does it? Or, will Deen forever be marked with a scarlet letter because of her past? Has the brand done enough to distance itself from then and now? The whole issue surrounding the brand has been quite polarizing, and there are likely to be lingering feelings regarding Deen. The damage that was done to the brand might seem irreparable. But this new partnership shows promise. The Deen brand will have to prove itself time and again before it can regain followers outside the tried-and-true circle.
A new investment company and partnership means new possibilities. With new possibilities comes a new perspective. The Deen brand will benefit from getting a fresh spin on its ideas and products. The brand could stand to be revamped. And this could really show the public it has shed its past and is stepping into a new, healthier future. She’s back, y’all!


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About the Author
Jennifer Graber is a Business Development Manager and marketing enthusiast. Her specific interests include branding, consumer behavior, development, integrated marketing communications, and new & social media.
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