Paula Deen, Marketing Machine

Uncle Bubbas featured

You might not realize it, but you’ve probably heard of Paula Deen before.  She hosts her own cooking show, has published more than a dozen cookbooks, and owns her own restaurant.  She is notorious for cooking very unhealthy food, and recently came under fire for revealing the fact that she has Type II diabetes (perhaps linked to her very unhealthy food) only when it meant securing an advertising deal with a pharmaceutical company.

Paula Deen also happens to live in Savannah, Georgia.  When my husband and I went to Savannah for our babymoon trip, we noticed that Deen has certainly left her mark on Savannah.  Several tour companies offer Paula Deen food tours, and she has a restaurant and kitchen store in downtown Savannah.

We skipped the restaurant after hearing that it features a buffet.  Excellent restaurants, even excellent casual restaurants, are never known for their buffets, my husband argued.  We couldn’t let go of all Paula Deen hype though, and ended up eating at Uncle Bubba’s, a restaurant she opened with her brother Bubba.

While the food was mediocre, Paula Deen’s marketing savvy was a wonder to behold.

Our calamari:  rubbery, soggy, and cooked in dirty oil.  Did I mention we are food snobs?

Our calamari: rubbery, soggy, and cooked in dirty oil. Did I mention we have high standards?

Of course, as soon as you enter Uncle Bubba’s, you find yourself just three feet away from the gift shop.  And of course, even if you have reservations, it takes the restaurant ten minutes to seat you, so you have time to peruse the gift shop.  My husband and I thoroughly enjoyed snapping photos of all of Paula’s strangely branded stuff.  We didn’t buy anything, but I think if I had spent one more minute in that gift shop, I would have had to pick up a butter dish or a beer coozie just for the heck of it.

Why does this butter dish crack me up so much?  It's merely stating the obvious, but I love it.

Why does this butter dish crack me up so much? It’s merely stating the obvious, but I love it.

You gotta give it to her; the woman has a sense of humor.

You gotta give it to her; the woman has a sense of humor.

Not exactly my style, but it seemed to be a popular item.  Lots of women were buying these in the gift shop.

Not exactly my style, but it seemed to be a popular item. Lots of women were buying these in the gift shop.

We learned our lesson:  good marketing does not make the meal taste any better.  But it does make the gift shop a lot more fun.

You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

8 Responses to “Paula Deen, Marketing Machine”

  1. Abby says:

    I used to watch episodes of Paula Deen’s cooking show while I exercised at the gym. It was oddly motivating to see her marinating a fatty pork loin in chocolate sauce (yes, really) while biking!

  2. Julia Tomiak says:

    We writers must also be students of marketing, and clearly Paula has figured something out, and, so have you, so all is not lost. Even if the food was mediocre.

  3. Lane says:

    I don’t get the attraction of Paula Deen. She was all about cream and butter until it was revealed she was diabetic. She tried to healthy it up, and stated that her previous cookbooks were “special occasion” meals not to be eaten on a daily basis. Um… That’s not how you marketed the meals in the past. Whatever… Just make a buck, Chuck.

  4. Joanna says:

    I actually used to live right down the street from The Lady and Sons restaurant! The line would be so ridiculous that it would sometimes almost make it to our front door! Believe me, you didn’t miss anything on the food there, especially the buffet. Now that I’ve had a few years of separation from it, I can sort of appreciate the glorious lack of classiness in her marketing.

    • Emily says:

      I’m glad to know that I didn’t miss anything at The Lady and Sons (not that my husband would have let us eat there anyway). I should have hit you up for Savannah advice before my trip– if only I had known you had lived there!

Leave a Reply