Legendary Country Artist Jimmy Dean says the Sara Lee Corporation has dropped him as spokesman for the sausage company he founded more than three decades ago.
In a statement released on Monday, the 75-year-old multimillionaire says the Chicago-based maker of food, apparel and household products told him last year he no longer meets the company's marketing needs.
"The company told me that they were trying to attract the younger housewife, and they didn't think I was the one to do that," Dean said in an AP interview.
"I think it's the dumbest thing. But you know, what do I know?" Julie Ketay, a spokeswoman for Sara Lee, said Monday that the company chose not to renew Dean's contract in May because the "brand was going in a new direction" that demanded a shift in marketing.
"We're focusing more on the product, not the person. Our consumers want convenience and great taste," Ketay said.
Dean said Sara Lee pays him an undisclosed amount for the use of his name, his likeness and his marketing participation in the Jimmy Dean product line. The company will still retain rights to his name and image, but it has reduced its payments to reflect its dismissal of Dean as the line's spokesman.