Can Martha make a comeback?

March 7, 2005

Martha Can Martha make a comeback? Of course, there is nothing people like more than knocking someone down and then giving them the chance to get back up and prosper.

Martha, her brand and her company, have taken some serious hits in the last two years. The very public scandal and her subsequent silence and lies have wreaked havoc on Martha the brand and woman.

But going to prison and disappearing for five months is just what this brand doctor would have ordered to prepare for a brand turnaround. Let’s look at Martha’s to do list for a successful brand comeback:

Martha’s things to do:

1. Drop lawsuit appeal.

Continuing to proclaim your innocence is pointless. I understand you wish to somehow “clear” your name. But the legal consensus seems to be that your appeals will not be successful. Get over your need to have a perfect, unblemished record, besides you have served your time in jail already. The public will be much more sympathetic if you admit you made a mistake, did your time, feel remorse and want to move on with your life. When you start doing media interviews, you don’t want to be talking about your legal appeal, you want to be talking about the exciting new things you are doing in the future.

2. Pick one high-powered exclusive media interview.

You will need to do one high-profile interview to jump-start your comeback. It will be incredibly important to show your human qualities of remorse, humility and likeability. We need to see that Martha is a real person, who can laugh at her mistakes while at the same time be kind and genuine. But who to grant the interview? Katie Couric in prime time would be my first choice.

3. Resuscitate Martha Stewart Living magazine.

Readers and more importantly advertisers have shunned Martha’s flagship magazine. Making this star shine again should be your top priority. Creating new ideas, writing articles and appearing in photo shoots should all help you to get your magazine get back on track.

4. Get back on syndicated television.

Martha, you can be warm, persuasive and personable on television. You need a new show to highlight those qualities while delivering solid home, cooking and decorating advice. With the high profile team you have so wisely put in place at your company delivering a top quality show should be doable.

5. Cancel the Apprentice.

Martha, what were you thinking? Obviously Mark and Donald took you out and got you bombed on sushi and champagne to get you to agree to this crazy idea. A Martha Stewart Apprentice makes no sense at all. The concept of the show is to be a cruel, backstabbing aristocrat tormenting a bunch of spoiled kids who want to be just like you. The Donald somehow pulls it off since he is such a cartoon of himself. But this is the wrong image for you. Besides the show’s concept is wearing thin and the ratings are sinking with this third season anyway. While people might want to see you initially, I don’t think the format will showcase your best side. Ditch it!

6. Renegotiate with Kmart.

Now that Sears and Kmart are one company, why not push to move the Martha brand into Sears and get out of the troubled and image tarnished Kmart stores. Or even better yet, help the company create a new brand to replace Kmart which could feature Martha and be a better showcase for her brands. Clearly Kmart today does not live up to Martha’s standards. And the store’s format is not succeeding anyway in competition to Wal-Mart and Target.