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The real Nadia Lim outrage

Sean Plunket: What I’m assuming Simon Henry was trying to say, with the subtlety of a herd of stud bulls in a porcelain emporium, was we should be wary of financial offerings that rely on star power
Sean Plunket
Founding Editor & Breakfast Host
May 7th, 2022

OPINION: There was a lot of social and mainstream media pearl clutching going on last week.

It centred on Celebrity Chef and co-founder of My Foodbag Nadia Lim, or more specifically the fact she was described as a bit of “Eurasian fluff” by the CEO of chemical storage company DGL Simon Henry.

Once the comment, made in the context of a business media interview, was out the cancel culture mob got to work.  I imagine the #metoo phone tree was ringing off the hook, people probably fainted in the RNZ newsroom and the twitter troll cry bullies got to work on eviscerating Simon Henry and the business he heads.

A number of virtue-signalling financial institutions decided to jump on the outrage train and announced they would pull investment from the company Mr Henry heads just to show their investors how woke they were.

Nadia Lim initially maintained a dignified distance from the storm but eventually weighed in basically claiming while she wasn’t personally offended that she thought the comments might have a negative effect on other young eurasian women so she decided to take offence on their behalf.

The Prime Minister even joined the witch hunt telling a gaggle of compliant media:

Not only does that do a complete disservice to Nadia herself, I imagine it would be insulting to all women. Ultimately the success of Nadia Lim speaks for itself.

Her supernatural ability to discern the emotional response of all women to Mr Henry’s comments aside, the PM is correct on one point, the success of Nadia Lim does speak for itself.

That success is undeniable. Lim, already a well-qualified nutritionist and dietician used the celebrity status acquired through her appearance on a reality TV show to help launch a business that delivered groceries and recipes to Kiwi households.  After a period, it was time for Lim and her partners to cash in by floating the company on the NZX.

Lim’s celebrity status (generated in part by her telegenic appeal) was clearly a big part of that float which is why her photograph (which you’d need to be seriously odd to regard as sensual or erotic in anyway) was included in the prospectus. Lim is also signed on as a brand ambassador for the company until sometime next year.

So, if leveraging your appearance on a TV show to create a business aligned with activities you are already passionate about, then further leveraging your fame to cash out through a public float and pick up a part time job into the bargain is success, Ms Lim is living the dream.

But I’m pretty sure those who bought into the company last year don’t regard their investment as a success. Since its float the value of their shares has plummeted, in stark contrast to the company Mr Henry floated at the same time which has gone from strength to strength.

The investors in Ms Lim’s enterprise who may have acted in part because of her celebrity endorsement are learning in a very real way that the proof of any pudding is in its eating.

As I write this Simon Henry has been told off by his board and has sent an apology by mail to Nadia Lim who has yet to receive it. When she does, I suggest she graciously accepts and considers apologising herself to the investors in her company who have collectively lost millions of dollars.

What I’m assuming Simon Henry was trying to say, with all the subtlety of a herd of stud bulls in a porcelain emporium, was we should all be wary of financial offerings that rely to heavily on star power or celebrity endorsement if we want an investment sector that delivers real growth and benefit to investors we would do will to concentrate on the core ingredients in any recipe rather than garnish.

For my part I know who I’d rather have cook me a meal and who would help me make sure I could pay for it.

Sean Plunket is the founding editor of The Platform and an award-winning veteran broadcaster and television presenter.