Nigella Lawson: A brand blemished but unbowed

Nigella Lawson: A brand blemished but unbowed

Credit: Getty Images

ISLEWORTH, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 04: Nigella Lawson arrives at Isleworth Crown Court on December 4, 2013 in Isleworth, England. Italian sisters Francesca and Elisabetta Grillo, who worked as assistants to Nigella Lawson and Charles Saatchi, are accused of defrauding them of over 300,000 GBP. (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)

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by Associated Press

Associated Press

Posted on December 7, 2013 at 10:07 AM

Updated Monday, Dec 9 at 2:27 PM

Just how big a deal is brand in the world of celebrity chefs? Messy public eruptions around two of the food world's most powerful women show that staying true to your messaging matters.

Paula Deen's admission this summer to using racial slurs in the past was so contrary to her homespun brand of amiable Southern charm, she found her empire quickly unraveling. But recent allegations and admissions of drug use by Nigella Lawson are playing out differently, thanks to a persona built around in-your-face sensuality.

Simply put: When misdeeds get exposed, the more out of sync they are with your brand, the worse you fare. Crisis-management expert Eric Dezenhall says Lawson's troubles aren't inconsistent with how she presents herself. But racial epithets from a Southern grandmother are a different story.

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