If you’re ever looking for an example of pack journalism, refer back to the coverage of the Martha Stewart in June, 2002. The reporters are not even coming up with new angles. Every article, even ones in the same media outlets, are exploring the same question (reg. required): Can a company survive if the reputation of its founder (and brand namesake) becomes tarnished?
The answer is, “yes.” Let me repeat this: Yes. I know it will disappoint the reporters and competitors who believe they are on the verge of tumbling her dynasty, but there is little recent evidence that consumers will abandon the brand Martha Stewart because of the sins of Martha Stewart.
Rather than spend much time tracing the past or recent history that supports my observation (ie, Henry Ford), all I need to say is two words: Bill Clinton. We live in a culture that cares not about the failings of the provider as long as he or she “connects” with the common man. As with Clinton, I believe the American “consumer” will choose to sit out the current execution of Martha Stewart.
Later: Maybe I picked the wrong president. Today, she sounds more Nixonian (“I am not a crook. You won’t have Dick Nixon to kick around”) on her first TV appearance (reg. required)
“When I was a model, and I was all during high school and college, you always wanted to be on the cover of a magazine. That’s how your success was judged. The more cover, the better. Well, I am the C.E.O. of a New York Stock Exchange-listed company and I don’t want to be on any covers of any newspapers for a long, long time. That’s the story. Thank you very much.”
Okay, then, why are you appearing on national TV? Actually, this quotation could generate many paragraphs of response related to the marketing implications of Martha losing her desire to be on the cover of magazines (for example, does this apply to all HER magazines?) Not now, however.
By the way, doesn’t this beg for the response, “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen”?