Will Nigella’s Saucy Image Burn in Court Case?

Nigella Lawson 150x150 Will Nigellas Saucy Image Burn in Court Case?

THE PR VERDICT: “C” (Distinctly OK) for Nigella Lawson.

It’s been a grim year for the queens of cookery. First Paula Deen was disgraced when part of a court deposition brought down her multi-million dollar empire and cost her all but one of her many sponsorships. Now Nigella Lawson finds herself in court, facing accusations of being a cocaine addict.

The case is not against Lawson herself. Charges have been brought against Francesca and Lisa Grillo, two sisters who were housekeepers to Nigella Lawson and her now ex husband  Charles Saatchi.  The sisters worked for the famous couple for over ten years, but were recently accused of fraud after spending nearly $1.15 million on Saatchi’s credit cards. The Grillos allege that they were allowed to use the cards by Saatchi to cover up Lawson’s drug abuse.

Will the accusations cause the same fall from grace that Deen suffered? It’s unlikely. PRs have analyzed both women and point first to Nigella’s saucy image as a saving grace. With her sexy cookery presentations, tales of drug use will hardly shock her constituency. Her following may even excuse it in sympathy for putting up with an abusive husband.

THE PR VERDICT: “C” (Distinctly OK) for Nigella Lawson. While no one needs a day in court, she may walk out of chambers unscathed.

THE PR TAKEAWAY: Know when to employ PR damage control. In the case of Paula Deen, outside PR experts should have been hired immediately; bad press after all can be minimized. Is Nigella Lawson the next Paula Deen? No. The news is scandalous but such is her brand equity she can take a couple of hits, after all she  has public sympathy on her side. Weigh image, consumer, and reaction; then decide if it’s time to let a pro step in.

The PRV Report Card: This Week’s Winners & Losers

hersman 300x300 The PRV Report Card: This Week’s Winners & LosersPR WINNER OF THE WEEK: “A” (PR PERFECT) to Deborah Hersman, chairwoman of the National Transportation Safety Board, for maintaining the accident investigation agency’s impeccable record of transparency and candor. Led by Hersman, the agency has gushed a steady torrent of salient findings on last weekend’s deadly crash of Asiana Flight 214 in San Francisco, prompting journalists to express “amazement at the unusual amount of detail flowing from the federal bureaucracy.” Her daily briefings have not been universally welcome. Pilot groups have decried premature disclosure of data that suggest pilot error, while other critics have clucked about Hersman’s intense ambition as the driving factor for her high visibility. Maybe, but so what? As Hersman noted this week, the NTSB’s unassailable credibility derives from its transparency: “We believe it is important to show our work and to tell people what we are doing.”

 The PRV Report Card: This Week’s Winners & LosersPR LOSER OF THE WEEK: “F” (FULL FIASCO) to advertising mogul Charles Saatchi, who announced he is divorcing his wife, celebrity chef Nigella Lawson. The soon-to-be-ex Mrs. Saatchi was the one expected to start divorce proceedings photographs of Saatchi choking her during lunch at a restaurant hit the media. After minimizing his repeated attacks as “a playful tiff” to the press, Saatchi gave a statement saying he was “disappointed that [Lawson] was advised to make no public comment to explain that I…have never abused her in any way.” No doubt all who read it were not merely disappointed but frankly aghast that Saatchi was not advised to keep his mouth shut.

female force paula deen1 150x150 The PRV Report Card: This Week’s Winners & LosersTHE PRV “THERE’S NO ‘THERE’ THERE” AWARD TO Bluewater Productions, which said it will go ahead with a planned comic book featuring that legendary icon of female empowerment…erm, Paula Deen? Yes, the company said “Female Force: Paula Deen” will  hit the stands in October despite the celebrity chef’s plummeting stardom. Deen’s empire began to crumble after she admitted to using racial slurs, something she attributed to having grown up in the South. Bluewater said it chose Deen as its next superhero because she “changed Southern cooking for women” (meaning, now even more will develop diabetes?) and that it will somehow incorporate Deen’s fall from grace into the storyline – that should be interesting. Apparently, Bluewater doesn’t need its heroines’ consent to publish; the company admitted Deen hasn’t returned its calls. Given that corporate sponsors are dropping the 66-year-old chef like a hot butter-and-sour-cream-laden potato, however, that could change.


The PRV Report Card: This Week’s Winners and Losers

CHINA articleInline The PRV Report Card: This Weeks Winners and LosersPR WINNER OF THE WEEK: “A” (PR PERFECT) TO New York University, for delicately but firmly pushing back on allegations that it was shoving Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng out the door for political reasons. The blind legal activist who escaped house arrest in Beijing last year received a law school fellowship at NYU when he arrived in the US. Last week, he claimed the school was forcing him out, worried that his attacks on the Chinese government were endangering the school’s academic aspirations in China, where it recently opened a campus in Shanghai. A school spokesman gave the “puzzled and saddened” response to Chen’s atttack, noting that his fellowship was only ever intended to last one year. Third parties chimed in as well, with one saying no political refugee had ever received better treatment and that Chen had at least two desirable employment options at other universities.

 The PRV Report Card: This Weeks Winners and LosersPR LOSER OF THE WEEK: “F” (FULL FIASCO) TO Charles Saatchi, co-founder of the famed Saatchi & Saatchi advertising giant, for explaining away as a “playful tiff” his apparent assault on his wife, celebrity chef Nigella Lawson, at a tony London restaurant. Photos show the 70-year-old businessman with his hands around Lawson’s neck, something he says he did “to emphasize a point” during a debate over their children. Lawson was seen in tears after the incident, and reportedly has since left their home. For his part, Saatchi accepted a caution from local police, meaning he acknowledged the event and has been warned. For someone with presumably superior instincts about image, Saatchi has badly erred with his outrageous conduct, in public, with implausible explanations.

 The PRV Report Card: This Weeks Winners and LosersTHE PRV “THERE’S NO ‘THERE’ THERE” AWARD TO the latest search for the body of Jimmy Hoffa. Thirty-seven years after the mysterious disappearance of the union leader, authorities dug up a field in Detroit in search of Hoffa’s body. The tip seemed viable, coming from a former Mafia underboss, though one with a book to publicize. Embarrassment over the lack of body was mitigated by authorities’ assurance to taxpayers that the cost of the search was only for three days of digging machinery and rental of portable toilets.