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Food Network Must Drop Paula Deen’s Sons As Well

Food Network Must Drop Paula Deen's Sons As Well


Just as parents will do anything to save their children from harm, so too will children do anything to protect their parents. The instinct to close ranks and go on the defensive is strong, passionate, and often blinding.

So it is no surprise that on Tuesday morning Paula Deen’s two sons, Jamie and Bobby, went on CNN’s New Day to not only defend their embattled mother, but also save her rapidly vanishing financial empire. Their exclusive interview wasn’t entirely altruistic, of course, since their own livelihoods — which include a television show each, books, endorsement deals, and speaking engagements — are grounded in their mother’s fame.

But that filial instinct probably means that the time has come for the Food Network to drop them, too.

Instead of apologizing for their mother’s behavior or expressing contrition for the ugliness that arose from her deposition, Jamie and Bobby made matters worse. They made excuses, attacks, denials. But not apologies.

“These accusations are very hurtful to her, and it’s very sad, and frankly I’m disgusted by the entire thing because it began as extortion, and it’s become character assassination, and our mother is not the picture that’s being painted of her,” Bobby Deen, 41, said in the interview.

When asked by CNN anchor Chris Cuomo why Paula Deen would say under oath that she taught them that there can be acceptable uses of the N-word, they essentially said she lied.

“That’s completely false,” said Jamie Deen, 44, adding that, “These are her words, and not for Bobby and I.”

Added Bobby, “She has never said those words to me.”

So, clearly someone’s lying, and it seems unlikely that the one admitting to racism is the one being untruthful.

Jamie even went so far as to lay the groundwork for the family’s defense against further allegations by rhetorically asking Cuomo regarding anyone else who might come forward with similar charges, “You think people are going to take this opportunity to come out and try to get their piece now?”

“It’s part of the price you pay when you’re in, you know, you have a high profile business or the television shows or whatever that Mom might do,” he added.

The only thing less genuine than the “that’s the price of fame” argument would be if one of the sons recounted a story about how Hank Aaron or some other prominent athlete of African-American descent was a hero to them to underscore how not racist they are.

Oh wait, that’s exactly what Jamie did, recounting how Aaron was his hero growing up and how Paula and her husband gave him pajamas featuring the famed Atlanta Braves slugger.

Taken together, it seems completely inconsistent for the Food Network to drop Paula but keep Jamie and Bobby. Consistency would dictate that the network not only punish the sinner, but also those who are denying the sin. You can’t hold one party responsible and turn a blind eye towards the other.

What Jamie and Bobby are essentially saying in their interview is that their mother isn’t so bad, and that she’s being treated unfairly. What they decidedly are not saying is that she was wrong or apologizing for the situation or how they plan to address it going forward. Basically, they are defending and protecting their mother against what they feel is an inaccurate portrait of her — and, by extension, them. They are closing family ranks. You, viewer, don’t know us, and therefore you don’t know much.

A Food Network representative told BuzzFeed Tuesday it had no further comment at this time beyond its original statement that Bobby’s show, Not My Mama’s Meals, and Jamie’s show, Home for Dinner, would be unaffected by the situation surrounding their mother.

But how much longer can the network hold steady to that position? In defending and protecting their mother, Jamie and Bobby made the situation worse for everyone. Put it this way, if Bobby Flay and Mario Batali went on CNN and gave the same interview, would they remain on the air?

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Can Marissa Mayer Sell Yahoo To Tumblr’s Users?

Can Marissa Mayer Sell Yahoo To Tumblr's Users?

Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo. Keystone, Laurent Gillieron / AP

For Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, there is no more important time in her professional career than now. Or, more precisely, than Monday afternoon at 5 p.m. EST at the R Lounge at Two Times Square in New York. That’s when Mayer will take the stage to officially unveil Yahoo’s $1.1 billion purchase of Tumblr.

Typically, such press events are designed to sell shareholders, advertising executives and the media on the merits of the deal, primarily by plying them with expensive alcohol and robust swag bags. But tomorrow, Mayer will be pitching not to the martini-swilling attendees at the event, but to a much more important audience — the 18- to 25-year-olds who make up the bulk of Tumblr’s user base. The core Tumblr demographic that is already threatening to defect from the blogging platform and social network en masse.

Monday’s press conference represents not just a key moment in Mayer’s effort to remake Yahoo, but also for her as a leader and chief executive. Calling it the presentation of her career would not be an overstatement. As sources told AllThingsD, which broke the news of the deal, Mayer has decided that buying Tumblr is going to be “the stake in the ground for what her strategy is going forward for Yahoo.”

For that strategy to pay dividends, Mayer needs to both convince Tumblr’s under-30 contingent to stick around and entice a steady stream of their peers to contine to adopt the service. In a way, press reports saying that Yahoo wants to buy Tumblr to be cool are doing Mayer a disservice. Nothing is less cool than a conscious attempt to be cool. What Mayer is faced with is the immense task of convincing Tumblr’s users that Yahoo’s products and services can make them cooler.

It won’t be easy. Indeed, by banning Kara Swisher and Peter Kafka, the reporters who broke the news of the deal, from the press conference, Yahoo already looks petty and decidedly uncool.

But more importantly, as my colleague John Herrman noted Sunday, when Yahoo was founded, most of Tumblr’s most important demographic wasn’t even born. (Jerry Yang and David Filo co-founded Yahoo in January 1994 for the record. Tumblr was founded in 2007.) Mayer turns 38 on May 30; Tumblr founder David Karp turns 27 in July. To Wall Street, Mayer is a revelation — a young, digitally native executive who can speak the language of both coders and analysts. To Tumblr users she represents authority: a corporate executive to be viewed suspiciously, someone who wants to make money off their work and take away their fun.

Nowhere is that better illustrated than in two tweets, one from LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner and the other from the parody account YahooBoard.

“Whether new policy decisions, product launches, or acquiring Tumblr, Marissa’s got people talking about Yahoo again in a meaningful way,” @jeffweiner tweeted on Sunday afternoon.

A few hours later, @YahooBoard tweeted, “First meeting on how to completely destroy @tumblr’s culture of product innovation is 9am sharp tomorrow.”

The joke actually takes on some resonance when you consider that changes to Tumblr are nearly always incremental and pass without fanfare. New features are announced on the site’s staff blog in the form of short posts from Karp or one of a handful of deputies. Funding announcements have been allowed to play out in the press, while Tumblr’s most important announcement in years, that it had devised a rudimentary advertising strategy, was delivered casually by Karp at an advertising conference. Glossy press events are anathema to pre-Yahoo Tumblr, and to Karp, who would rather antagonize his business peers than share a stage with them.

And let’s not forget that Tumblr’s core users also find display advertising, still a main source of Yahoo’s revenue, reprehensible. They don’t like to be sold to, regardless of whether it’s a product or a deal.

Historically, Yahoo’s leaders have wilted rather than thrived under pressure. A major reason why Yahoo has foundered since rejecting Microsoft’s $44 billion takeover offer in 2008 is because Jerry Yang, Carol Bartz and the company’s other interim CEOs never articulated a clear vision and strategy. They seemed to be looking for a way out rather than a way forward.

Mayer has spent $1.1 billion because she believes Tumblr provides a path to keep Yahoo relevant for a new generation of users. On Monday she will attempt to sell its users on her vision. By the time the press conference ends we should have a good idea of whether they see things her way.

David Karp of Tumblr speaks onstage at TechCrunch Disrupt NY 2013 at The Manhattan Center on May 1, 2013, in New York City. Brian Ach / Getty Images

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Abercrombie Updates Its “Stars On The Rise” Ad Campaign For A New Generation

Abercrombie Updates Its "Stars On The Rise" Ad Campaign For A New Generation

In an attempt to attract a new generation of teenage shoppers, Abercrombie & Fitch is reaching back to its recent past. The retailer is updating its wildly successful “Stars on the Rise” marketing campaign from the early 2000s that featured stars such as Taylor Swift and Ashton Kutcher who were at the time on the cusp of celebrity.

For the reincarnated campaign, Abercrombie chose 11 “up-and-coming” actors including Glee star Jacob Artist, Alexander Ludwig from The Hunger Games and American Horror Story’s Lily Rabe. Showing a whimsical side, the 2013 campaign also features famous dogs such as Uggie, the Jack Russell terrier from The Artist, and Julio, the famed skateboarding English Bulldog. Bruce Weber, Abercrombie’s photographer for years, shot the campaign in the brand’s typical black-and-white style.

“For many of our consumers today, they might not know what we did in 2005, so it seemed relevant to discuss this concept we’ve done in the past,” Michael Scheiner, Abercrombie’s director of marketing and public relations, said in a telephone interview with BuzzFeed. “We did it often in the early 2000s in our quarterly magazines and it was always a successful and exciting campaign.”

Revisiting “Stars on the Rise” allows Abercrombie to remind consumers of its trendsetter status in using people like Heidi Klum and Penn Badgley as models before they were huge stars. It also connects the retailer to hot, hip new talent, putting it again on the cutting edge and helping to counter the criticism that the brand has grown stale and out of touch.

The first iterations of “Stars on the Rise,” which was a staple of the early 2000s, were typically featured in editions of Abercrombie’s provocative A&F Quarterly. Introduced in 1997, the magazine-catalogs, or “magalogs,” were a hallmark of the period during which Abercrombie sales and buzz grew at the time rapidly. But A&F Quarterly ended its run in December 2003 after a particularly racy Christmas issue that had “Group Sex” written on the cover created a fury among conservative groups.

Reigniting the program is “really smart,” said Allen Adamson, a managing director at brand consultancy Landor Associates in New York. “Their brand needs to be connected with what’s next, what’s hot, and there’s no better way in their business to try to catch the next trend than to link up with aspiring stars. And the association works both ways — it’s good for the rising stars and it’s good for Abercrombie.”

While Abercrombie has around 400,000 followers on Twitter, for instance, The Hunger Games’ Alexander Ludwig has 325,000, showing how the social media reach of both sides can work in each other’s favor.

“Even if half of them [the stars] don’t make it, or three-fourths of them don’t make it, the energy they bring, the authenticity, the hope, you just feel good looking at their stories,” Adamson said, adding that it’s a lot like buying a bunch of lottery tickets — if some of them do strike it big, they’ll be connected to Abercrombie.

A 2004 “Stars on the Rise” magazine from A&F on eBay. Via

In May, Abercrombie hired a new senior vice president of marketing, Craig Brommers, formerly of Speedo and Calvin Klein. The campaign, however, was underway before he came on board. Still, according to Abercrombie’s Scheiner, Brommers is “evaluating existing initiatives and developing a long-term marketing strategy.”

Images of the budding celebrities in the new campaign are in stores worldwide, on the company’s website, and in a new Abercrombie app where shoppers can see how many degrees apart they are from the stars. So far, the feedback from shoppers has been “encouraging,” Scheiner said.

And who knows? Maybe the next Heidi Klum or Ashton Kutcher is in the mix.

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