Paula Deen's public relations mess continues as Caesars, Wal-Mart, Home Depot drop her

(CBS News) The fallout continues for Paula Deen more than a week after her admission surfaced that she used a racial slur in the past. Caesars Entertainment, Wal-Mart and Home Depot are the latest companies to part ways with the celebrity cook. She stands to lose millions in sponsorships and endorsements.

"Paula Deen has done a great job of taking a bad situation and making it much, much worse," Abbey Klaassen, editor of Ad Age, said on "CBS This Morning."

Paula Deen loses two more deals

Deen said things she shouldn't have said but made her situation worse with her response to it, according to Klaassen. She said, "The number-one lesson of crisis (public relations) is come out right away, say what you said, be contrite, let the news cycle move on, and instead here we are in the second week. She's scheduled interviews, canceled media interviews, put out YouTube videos, and that didn't seem sincere or just weren't well-received. I think by dragging it on it gave these big companies an opening to drop her."

The situation is even worse for Deen, Klaassen added, because corporate America draws "a line in the sand" when it comes to racism. "That is something that big companies just will not tolerate," she said.

If Deen had been contrite, she likely would have lost some sponsors and her projected $16 million earnings for those partnerships, but "the damage would have been much more amenable," Klaassen said.


And while many of the large companies have dropped Deen, some smaller companies have remained loyal to the former Food Network chef.

Why? It all comes down to how important the endorser is to the brand. Klaassen said, "If you're Wal-Mart, you don't want this headache. Paula Deen is not that important do you."

However, as of this writing, some popular, big stores are still standing with Deen, such as Target, QVC and Sears. Klaassen said they'll likely face pressure to let Deen go. "The bigger the company you are, the more likely you're offending some of those consumers," she said. "We've seen in the past where companies have stuck by endorsers, but I think it comes down to how important are they to that brand, so Nike Golf stuck by Tiger Woods, for example, but others left."

For more on the Deen situation, watch Klaassen's full interview above.