Chef of Unhealthy Foods Is Now Spokesperson for Novo Nordisk

Chef of Unhealthy Foods Is Now Spokesperson for Novo Nordisk

January 18th, 2012 // 2:26 pm @

Meet the new face of diabetes. Yes, the self-styled Queen of Southern Cuisine, who is famous for her Food Network episodes where she serves up all manner of sugary, fried and all-around heavy eats, is now the new spokesperson for Novo Nordisk. Specifically, Paula is revealing her previously undisclosed tale as a Type 2 diabetes sufferer, which the drugmaker has dubbed ‘Diabetes in a New Light.’

Well, y’all, this is rather interesting, is it not? All this time, Paula can be seen on the Food Network offering dishes that no self-respecting diabetic – at least one who would like to survive a few more years – would be seen eating, let alone making for an audience of millions. Now, though, she is going to be a paid plugger for a company that sells needed treatments for diabetics?

“As the world leader in diabetes care, we are committed to helping people with diabetes live great, fulfilling lives,” Camille Lee, corporate vp of diabetes marketing at Novo Nordisk crows in a statement. “We are thrilled that Paula, Bobby and Jamie Deen are part of this initiative that helps people embrace diabetes management in a more positive way.”

As Christine Truelove at MedAd News wrote: “Ms. Deen’s blatant disingenuousness about her condition (that she may have been diagnosed as long ago as 2008) and that her own cuisine may have contributed to her condition, plus her recipes shilling her own spice mixtures…seriously? She is not the example I’d want to be holding up as a marketer.”

In other words, now that Paula has acknowledged her affliction, it must be alright for untold numbers of Type 2 diabetics to associate her with both Novo Nordisk diabetes treatments and – oh, let’s see – fried cheesecake or her famous breakfast donut sandwich that is overflowing with burger meat, eggs and crispy bacon.

To what extent this will help the drugmaker sell more diabetes treatments is unclear. It may well be that many Paula fans will follow her lead and ask for a Novo Nordisk med, even as they gorge on that breakfast donut sandwich. At least the Novo Nordisk team can argue that they are touting a paid spokesperson who really does have the disease in question, unlike the Prinival high-blood pressure ads featuring baseball star Cal Ripken Jr., who did not actually suffer from the affliction (see here), as Forbes notes.

Using a famous face to sell a drug is clearly believed to be a good tactic. A big business has been built around using celebrities to market pharmaceuticals and, not surprisingly, agencies are increasingly aggressive about touting stars – rising or falling – to sell meds (here is one example). And obviously, the drugmaker believes it can have its cake – piled high with carbohydrates – and eat it, too.

Then again, Novo Nordisk may well find itself in the uncomfortable position of being accused of promoting unhealthy eating, assuming one closely watches the heaping plates of food concocted by the Queen of Southern Cuisine. This, after all, runs counter to combating diabetes. And for the pharmaceutical industry, at large, this may speak to the issue of judgment, and also credibility.

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