Smithfield Foods Taps Celebrity Cook Paula Deen to Help Promote Family Meals

NEW YORK -- Celebrity cook Paula Deen is joining forces with meat producer Smithfield Foods in an exclusive partnership aimed at promoting meals at home, the two parties said yesterday at a "taste conference" here.

To achieve the partnership's goal, Deen will make personal appearances, participate in activities including community outreach efforts, offer Web-based recipe and meal preparation tips, and contribute to print and broadcast communications, including Webcasts and new product development.
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In return, Smithfield will use its Web site and other promotional venues to market Deen's signature products, including her cookbooks, seasonings, BBQ sauces, aprons, T-shirts, gift certificates, and cooking school.

Smithfield Foods approached Deen with the partnership idea at a show in March, explained James D. Schloss, Smithfield's corporate v.p., sales and marketing, during the conference. "Smithfield had already been in Paula's kitchen for years," he said.

Describing the partnership as "a perfect marriage," Deen noted, "there have been times when I could have partnered [with other companies], but opted not to. I wanted to partner with someone with the same morals, the same love of family, and the same pride in their product."

Representatives from Salisbury, N.C.-based Food Lion and Avenel, N.J.-based Foodtown also attended the press conference, as guests of Smithfield Foods. Smithfield's v.p. of sales and marketing, Joe Weber, said he was discussing ideas on how to promote the new partnership together with the retailers.

Deen and her sons Jamie and Bobby own and operate the highly popular The Lady & Sons restaurant in Savannah, Ga.; and she and her brother run the equally successful Uncle Bubba's Oyster House nearby. Known for her "down-home" personality and traditional Southern cooking, Deen has written four cookbooks, publishes a lifestyle magazine called Cooking with Paula Deen, and has her own TV show, "Paula's Home Cooking," on the Food Network.
-- Jenny McTaggart
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