The Top 10 Reputation Crises of 2013

By Suzanne Woolley and Ben Steverman - 2013-11-15T18:07:38Z

Photograph by Peter Kramer/NBC via AP Images

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No. 4: Paula Deen

Celebrity chef Paula Deen’s trouble started in one small corner of her business empire, but led to the collapse of almost the whole thing, including a Food Network show, books, and endorsements of kitchenware, mattresses and diabetes drugs. Allegations of racism and sexism at a restaurant she co-owned with her brother led to her admission of using racial slurs decades ago. Deen’s plunge demonstrates the problem of building a multi-million-dollar brand around one person, Diermeier says: “All is great, until it’s not. A problem with a person spills over to the brand.” Add in the “toxic” subject of race and “it’s very hard to come back,” he says. The company did not respond to requests for comment. 

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