Ellen DeGeneres‘ empire is on a rapid descent into brand suicide, an expert tells Fox News in a new interview.
The charitable and bubbly persona that DeGeneres, 62, exemplifies on her namesake talk show has been called into question in recent months as staffers continue to leak allegations of toxic workplace culture. Most recently, a Buzzfeed report included allegations from one current and 10 former staff members claiming to be victims of bullying and racism.
One current employee claimed that top producers held an all-staff meeting over Zoom in May to address “low morale” at the company following Fox News’ interview with DeGeneres’ former bodyguard. The bodyguard backed up claims that she was “cold” and “demeaning” off-camera.
Eric Schiffer, chairman of Reputation Management Consultants, weighed in on the latest allegations and what they mean for the host’s brand.
“Authenticity is king with celebrity brands and these continued leaks are lacerating her credibility and mangling her capacity to continue to try to be positioned at a high moral ground,” Schiffer told Fox News.
“It’s celebrity brand suicide,” he added.
Show executives released a statement to Buzzfeed in response to the allegations in which they shifted blame from the popular host onto themselves.
“For the record, the day to day responsibility of the Ellen show is completely on us. We take all of this very seriously and we realize, as many in the world are learning, that we need to do better, are committed to do better, and we will do better,” the statement reads in part.
Schiffer said this is an example of DeGeneres not taking responsibility. He said the allegations, whether they exist on the production side or not, ultimately fall on her.
“Ellen is unwilling herself to accept full responsibility and is trying to get her senior producers to take the full hit which further shows a lack of character,” Schiffer said. “A leader steps up and learns from it, and now we’re learning that Ellen — who is considered to be squeaky clean in her persona — may be leading an organization that has stone-cold crazy racism going on within it. It’s horrifying to think about.”
Schiffer added that it would be nearly impossible for DeGeneres to not have already been aware of the alleged abusive behavior going on behind the scenes.
“The chance of Ellen not knowing that this is going on is the same possibility that there are people still in America that don’t know Donald Trump’s name,” the brand expert said.
Reps for DeGeneres and the show did not immediately respond to Fox News’ requests for comment surrounding the new allegations on Friday.
Over a dozen employees have spoken out to various outlets about their negative experiences working at “Ellen.” Schiffer noted that it’s not going away and that’s alarming to advertisers.
“I think the future of the show is in serious danger because senior executives that must continue to bring in advertising dollars are not going to push product that will cause their clients to run,” Schiffer said.
Schiffer, who says he does not have direct knowledge of the show’s fate, said that based on his insights in the branding industry, execs have entered unchartered territory.
“Given the continued smoke coming out of the camp and my own insights into the hyper-careful nature of executives, I think that the probabilities of the ‘Ellen’ show becoming a mushroom cloud is higher than ever,” the expert continued.
Advertisers are likely “outraged” by the repeated assertions of the show’s toxic workplace culture. One former employee claimed to have been let go from their job after taking a month off to receive help following a suicide attempt.
Another employee, a Black woman, claimed to have been belittled by producers who commented on her “box braids” and told her they only remember White employees’ names. Schiffer said these accusations alone are enough to “turn off” advertisers, but they are even more damaging as the conversations of systemic racism in America are louder than ever before.
“Any advertiser that wants to align with the significant portion of the American public on issues related to race and treatment of employees will choose to protect their brand and place money in other shows versus ‘Ellen’ because of the wrath it could ensue upon the advertisers,” he said.
To date, DeGeneres has yet to publicly address the allegations surrounding her talk show. Schiffer said allowing executives of the show to take the fall isn’t enough.
“To disrespect her senior leaders and put it on them is even worse,” Schiffer concluded. “It’s this continued pattern of narcissism and a lack of empathy for her junior staff, a lack of empathy for her producers. She should step up and own it but she’s too big of a celebrity in her mind.”
The expert said that if DeGeneres wanted to make things right, she’d not only take a “humble” approach with an apology, but also make amends with each member of her staff via “one-on-one” meetings.
Schiffer said it appears DeGeneres has no interest in doing so.
“She’s too important and she doesn’t want to hurt her brand. Meanwhile, her brand is bleeding out in gushes across America,” he said.