Martha, Pt. Deux: The Post-Jail Strategy

MSLO's stock is going up, likely driven by squeezed short-sellers and the irrational exuberance of die-hard Martha Stewart fans. She's due out on March 6 - and her friends, advisors and employees have begun planning the next scene in an already event-rich herstory (housewife/stockbroker/home maven/ex-felon). Remember way back in the fall of 2004? When we were all younger and more naiive? Millions of dollars were poured into a public relations campaign trying to shape perception among possible jurors in NYC and surrounding counties. Web postings helped Martha speak directly to her fans, in the process adding a layer of humanity to her (brand) identity.

Her friends have visited and are recounting how well she's handling her prison term. Apparently, the prison yard yields edible greens, and she's taken up crocheting to pass the time. She's become interested in the re-integration of female convicts into society.

The cynic in me has to ask: has this brief stay in the big house had a life-changing effect on everyone's favourite housemistress? Will her interests change? Will she wield some of her influence to benefit her ex-roomies (or even better, convicts at other, more harsh, institutions?)

We'll have to see. Today, Mark Burnett's working on a daytime talk show for Martha. Media planners are upbeat about the prospects for MSLO's new Martha-light magazine. Executives at MSLO are trying to plan for Martha's new role in the company.

You can only hope Martha will pull a Milken.

The NYTimes has more detail, and some interesting if vacuous comments from brand experts.

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