Celebrity chef Pete Evans has been dropped by his book publisher, major supermarkets and bookstores have removed his products from aisles, and now his pet food brand is disappearing from shelves after he shared a neo-Nazi symbol on social media.
After years of contentious claims about alternative diets and the harm of vaccinations, it was Evans’ Facebook post last Sunday that caused a cascade of brands to sever ties with the chef.
Brands reacted swiftly to the post, with Pan Macmillan announcing the end of its six-year relationship with Evans on Monday afternoon. The publisher is even allowing retailers to return his books.
On Wednesday, a spokesperson from Pet House Superstore confirmed to SmartCompany that the retailer will remove Pete Evans’ pet food brand, Healthy Everyday Pets, from their online shop and discontinue the range in store.
“In our view, the images and views expressed by Mr Evans are reprehensible, unacceptable and offensive,” the spokesperson said.
A customer service employee from My Pet Warehouse also confirmed to SmartCompany on Wednesday that Pete Evans’ branded products have been removed from the store’s website.
Pet Circle, a second major stockist, is also no longer selling the products.
SmartCompany has contacted Pet Circle and My Pet Warehouse’s owner, Best Friends Pets, to confirm the retailers will no longer sell Evans’ brand.
— Pan Macmillan Aus (@MacmillanAus) November 16, 2020
On Tuesday, Woolworths Group and Big W announced their stores would remove his food products and books from their shelves.
Coles, Kmart Group, Dymocks, Collins Booksellers, Booktopia and David Jones soon followed, all sharing the sentiment that the chef’s commentary does not reflect their brand values.
Kitchenware manufacturer Baccarat Kitchen also confirmed it has terminated its license agreement with Evans and will no longer manufacture or sell its range of Evans’ branded products, while retailer House has also removed the chef’s products from its online and bricks-and-mortar stores.
We appreciate the recent community concern over comments made by Pete Evans. BIG W has taken the decision to remove his books from sale. As always, we encourage our customers to follow the expert medical advice from health authorities. More here: https://t.co/zQHW2Luk8T
— Woolworths (@woolworths) November 17, 2020
Evans has previously been associated with drinks brand Natural Raw C, however, the brand said on Tuesday it has been “taking steps to disassociate with him both personally and as a brand” over the past year.
“We are both horrified and saddened by the religious and anti-Semitic undertones by this tweet,” the company said in a statement on social media.
“These views are not supported by our company or staff.”
Brand and marketing strategist Melissa Packham tells SmartCompany Pete Evans’ latest provocation was the final straw, pushing brands to stop giving him a platform.
Packham says these companies saw a blatant reference to neo-Nazism, as did many consumers, despite Evans’ claim to have not known what the image meant.
“I really do think that with an issue like neo-Nazism, that’s just a no-brainer, that’s a very hard no for organisations,” Packham tells SmartCompany.
Packham says the brands that cut ties with Evans would have considered whether they were willing to take on the level of risk associated with the controversy by continuing to sell his products.
“They have to be really careful that it’s more than just a revenue discussion, it absolutely is a reputational discussion,” she says.
Evans became a household name after judging Seven Network’s My Kitchen Rules and quickly inked deals with an extensive range of food goods, books and pet food.
However, he was dropped by Seven Network in May this year, and this week Channel 10 followed suit by dumping him from the next season of I’m a Celebrity … Get Me Out Of Here!
According to independent brand counsel Michel Hogan, Evans is unique because he is both an individual and business.
The chef’s reputation is a form of capital that he and other companies trade, but he only has as much reputation that his actions and integrity provide, says Hogan.
“None of us are perfect, so every now and again your reputation might take a hit, but as long as you have enough to cover it, your brand will be okay,” Hogan says.
“But if you empty your brand value warehouse, then you have nowhere left to go, then you’re defunct and that’s what Pete has done,” she adds.
“Right now, it would be hard to see any doors that would be willing to open for him given the outrage,” Hogan says.
“He’s effectively made himself a pariah.”
Evans responded to the backlash in a video on Facebook, in which he denied being racist and said he had to “Google the meaning of Neo-Nazi”.
“The mainstream media have come out and labelled me a racist and a Neo-Nazi … but it is a load of garbage,” he said.