Marketing Martha -- Post-Crisis

Martha Stewart, with gavel and scales of justice AP / CBS

The name is on her TV show, her magazines, her towels, her sheets and on all sorts of housewares. And now it's also on an indictment.

Will the name still fit the product? And will consumers still buy it? Marketing Expert Lori Kapner told CBS News Correspondent Mika Brzezinski they will.

"People who love her products are still going to want her products. They are still going to want the company's advice -- the Martha Stewart brand of advice," said Kapner.

Her image is taking a huge hit. How closely tied is her image to people buying the products? "I would call it a significant marketing crisis," said Kapner.

And it remains to be seen if news of Stewart's decision to step down as chairman and chief executive of her company Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc. will accelerate or stem that crisis.

Some experts Martha Stewart's image and main characteristics are a recipe for disaster.

"If you are pretty and rich and a woman in an economy that's bad, you're going down," said crisis management expert Eric Dezenhall. "And in the case of Martha Stewart, it has all of the trappings of a perfect witch hunt."

And, Dezenhall says, the fact that Martha Stewart is a woman, has everything to do with how this scandal is playing out.

"When a man is accused of doing something naughty, well he's just a dude being a dude. When a woman does something naughty, she's unstable and she's dangerous and she must be stopped," he explained.

But there are many who still admire this self-made multi-millionaire and want to make their homes and their lives, just like hers.

"I think they are blaming her because she's a celebrity and she is who she is," said a Steward fan, Sheila Goode.

Crisis Management experts say Stewart's company will now have to decide how much they need the Martha Stewart name. And whether to stick out the investigation, hoping that she is vindicated.

Another strategy would be to slowly separate the product from the name and bring in other stars. But in this case, that could be extremely hard to do.



Martha Stewart's television program is syndicated by King World, which is owned by Viacom, the company that syndicates CBS News. King World had no comment today on the Stewart indictment.

  • Justine Blau

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