Who Will Be The Next Martha?

Discussion
Mar 10, 2004
George Anderson

By George Anderson


Now that Martha Stewart has seemingly been laid low by her conviction for violations of federal securities law, others are hoping they can take her spot in the hearts and wallets of American consumers in all things home decorating related.


Ms. Stewart has had her television show cancelled in a number of markets, but distributors of her name brand products appear willing to let the market decide.


Robert Wells, a spokesperson for Sherwin Williams Co., which manufactures a line of paints called Martha Stewart Everyday Colors sold through independent retailers told Reuters, “Frankly, we don’t believe Martha Stewart’s legal situation undermines the value of these products. We’ll let the customers and the retailers decide that. At this point, we’ve seen no decline in their demand.”


Despite the support of Sherwin Williams, Kmart, etc. there still remains a belief in consumer marketing circles that there is an opportunity for another person to step up and become, as the New York Times‘ headline says, “The Next Diva of Domesticity.”


J. C. Penney hopes it has found the Martha heir apparent. The retailer will introduce over 1,700 household items, from towels to furniture, this May as part of its Chris Madden With J. C. Penney Home Collection.


Ms. Madden is the author of 16 books including Haven: Finding the Keys to Your Personal Decorating Style; Bathrooms: Inspiring Ideas and Practical Solutions for Creating a Beautiful Bathroom; and A Room of Her Own: Women’s Personal Spaces.


For her part, Ms. Madden says she is ready to go. “I’m already set up, and Martha’s demise wouldn’t be that much to me. My moment is now. If we get new shoppers because they can’t go to Kmart, so be it.”


Ms. Madden told the Times she was negotiating a network television series deal.


Moderator’s Comment: Will there be a next Martha Stewart or do you expect to see marketers
back-off product lines carrying a celebrity’s name?


Surprisingly, there seems to be little fear on the part of marketers to align themselves with a celebrity despite the downside posed by a personal scandal
of some sort. Martha Stewart was far from the first celebrity to have an endorsement deal go south because of doing something stupid, illegal or both.


As to the next Martha Stewart, we’ll wait to see if consumers actually let the conviction alter their purchasing of her Everyday brand products. Some may
not like her character, but then again, they’re not decorating their home with her character.
George
Anderson – Moderator

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