As the coverage turns: All of the “she’s toast” angles in the post-verdict Martha Stewart coverage must be used up. Today marks the beginning of the “well, maybe she’s not toast, afterall” coverage. Confirming somewhat my observation last Saturday that professional pundits don’t quite comprehend that in the mind of her fans, two Marthas exist (the real one and the branded fictional one), is a survey conducted by Universal-McCann after the verdict was handed down:
…according to Universal McCann’s third Martha survey in the past 17months, the domestic doyenne’s guilty verdict isn’t going to affect the readership of her namesake magazine….consumers continue to believe in Martha Stewart the brand even though they also think the woman behind it is guilty as charged.
“Once again we find that consumers view Martha Stewart the person and Martha Stewart the brand as separate entities,” said Susan Nathan, a Universal McCann director. “While the vast majority of women believe she is guilty, it is clear they are very loyal to her magazine.”
Most said Stewart’s conviction would not affect their opinions of the advertisers that support her magazine and another 25 percent said they would actually have a more positive opinion about the companies that support her.
Marthette vultures update: Surely every year there are countless launches of product lines, publishing ventures and retail concepts in the home furnishing marketplace. In the year 2004, however, it appears anything in that industry will be “an opportunity to replace Martha Stewart.” (Previous Marthette vulture updates: here and here and here.)
Where are all the lines? Just ran across this awesome picture of earth from space. Sometimes, it’s nice to remind ourselves that to some eyes, America is not divided into red and blue states.
Short memory-span theater: This analysis of the impact her travails may or may not have on the brand Martha Stewart would be merely same-old, same-old, were it not for the incredibly ironic inclusion (without noting its irony) of quotes from analyst Mary Meeker of Morgan Stanley:
Analyst Mary Meeker of Morgan Stanley said the guilty verdict may actually allow the company to “move forward with greater clarity” and make some tough decisions, and said it could be attractive for management to take the company private…Meeker and others point out that despite its founder’s highly publicized legal problems, the company has a reputation for quality cooking and home-decorating advice and products, and continues to have a strong following among American households, as shown by the sales of its new furniture line, among other things. All the company has to do now is find some way of extricating all of that from the person it is named after.
Meeker’s (who, also ironically was at one time both a potential witness AND a potential juror in the Martha Stewart trial) role in “blessing” MSO as an internet-play helped boost its value when it originally went public. That role, described in the Fortune Magazine article, Where Mary Meeker Went Wrong” (paid subscription required), was merely one of her actions that later played a part in her humiliating fall from brand-name superstardom and a $50 million legal settlement Morgan Stanley agreed to.
Frankly, compared to the billions of dollars of market value that Mary Meeker knowingly or unknowingly appeared to manipulate, the “crimes” of Martha Stewart seem insignificant. That Meeker is now treated as an objective source, at least by the author of the linked-to analysis, seems to me to serve as living proof that ones “brand” can survive a little high profile tarnishing now and then. But to me, for her to be quoted in this context (as a stock analyst) with no explanation of her similar public fall seems not only ironic, but moronic.
Go Dores: From the website, VandyMania.com: “Before a packed Georgia Dome crowd, Vanderbilt shook up the college basketball world Friday by knocking off No. 4 Mississippi State 74-70 in overtime in the quarterfinals of the Southeastern Conference Tournament. The Commodores (21-8) now advance to face Florida Saturday at 2:15 p.m. CT…” (Later: Oh, well. There’s still the NCAA tournament starting next week.)