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DRugwatch Blog > January 2012 > Paula Deen and Questioning Celebrity Drug Endorsements

Paula Deen and Questioning Celebrity Drug Endorsements

Contributor: Allison Thrower

The pharmaceutical and entertainment industries have been abuzz since word dropped this week of Paula Deen’s type 2 diabetes diagnosis. The announcement offered an unexpected twist: the queen of Southern cuisine has also signed an endorsement deal with Novo Nordisk for its diabetes medication Victoza. The campaign called “Diabetes in a New Light” is meant to support healthy lifestyle changes in conjunction with the therapy – a stark contrast to Deen’s traditional tableau that consists of fried burgers on a glazed doughnut bun. A bold move by Novo, no doubt, but it’s certainly not the first of its kind.

Controversy aside, celebrities have been in the biopharma and healthcare spotlight for years – Bob Dole for Viagra, Sally Field for Boniva, Rob Lowe for Neulasta and now Paula Deen for Victoza. What other celebrities have successfully held sponsorships in the drug arena?

If time and tradition are any indicators, this will be an advertising trend for years to come. But still stands the question: just how efficacious or appropriate is this approach to drug promotion? And now that Deen’s endorsement has garnered public interest beyond the industry, how will celebrity pharmaceutical tie-ins be viewed or utilized in the future?
Posted on: 1/19/2012 6:15:13 PM | with 1 comments


Tags: Allison Thower, Just for Fun

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Comments
Donny Wong
So it didn't take long at all for the backlash to happen. A search on Twitter for "Deen" shows that Paula Deen, the unabashed queen of butter, has become the butt of countless jokes. And by association, Novo Nordisk is catching heat for selecting her as a spokesperson for Victoza.

Central to all the criticisms that have been circulating about the choice of Paula Deen is the disclosure that she has been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes for over three years, while continuing to showcase her Southern cooking style and encouraging millions of Americans to engage in an unhealthy, damaging lifestyle...and all while she sold cookbooks and collected endorsement fees.

And now that the diabetes cat is out of the bag, she insists that she will not change her eating habits (although now she is at least incorporating walking into her routine). What a wasted opportunity to use her diagnosis as a teaching tool.

Marketers often say that even negative publicity is good publicity. And life has certainly thrown Deen some lemons with the diabetes diagnosis, which she has turned into lemonade (to wash down some of those greasy fried foods). But it is difficult to see how Novo Nordisk will benefit from the association with Paula Deen, or indeed even keep their hands clean after coming into contact with all that sticky sugar and fat.
1/23/2012 11:29:13 AM

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