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Interview With Diane Brady

Aired June 26, 2003 - 19:25   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Martha Stewart's company has a new food magazine in the oven. "Every Day Food" -- that's what it's going to be called -- is nearly ready to serve. The premiere issue will reportedly feature an every day turkey burger on the cover, not Martha.
So will Martha's mag be the recipe for success? There it is. There's the big turkey burger. Succulent.

Even if she awaits trial in the stock tradings scandal, will this work? To talk about that, I'm joined here by Diane Brady, associate editor of "Business Week" magazine. She spent some time with Martha Stewart just yesterday.

You did an interview. Now I want to read something from an article you wrote. It's really fascinating. We're going to put it up on the screen. This is a quote from Martha Stewart.

"The name of the company happens to be my name, and I have been the spokesperson for this company... I am a good spokesperson. It just happens to be that way, and this company has been very lucky to have a great spokesperson."

So she's now just styling herself as a spokesperson?

DIANE BRADY, ASSOC. EDITOR, "BUSINESS WEEK": Yes. Essentially -- yes. Talk about underselling yourself from being the person who founded and built this branch, she's now merely the face of it.

COOPER: But there's a method to this madness.

BRADY: Of course. No, Martha basically wants to distance herself as much from the company as everybody does at this point because the company's suffering, frankly. The ad sales are down. The stock price is half what it was. And through no fault of the company, Martha's the brand and she has to go out there and tell people "not me."

COOPER: And we're seeing this. I mean the most recent example is this new magazine, "Every Day Food." It doesn't -- I mean "every day" is a reference to Martha Stewart's K-mart line. But it doesn't have a photo of her on the cover. It's got those big succulent turkey burgers.

BRADY: No mention -- it's the first time it's had no mention of the name Martha Stewart in the title. COOPER: Is this going to work? Not this magazine, per se, but the distancing.

BRADY: Well, I think, you know, the distancing is one question. And one thing we have to remember with the distancing, is people have always known it was going to be a problem.

Back in 1990, when she as trying to sell her magazine to "TIME," the executive said, "Martha, what if we read on page six that you run off with some rock star with a bone through his nose?"

And she said, "That will never happen."

And you know, here we are, flash forward, here's Martha Stewart in trouble and people understand it's a problem because of brand.

I think this magazine will do well. Why? Because it's a different audience. It's mass market. It's people who want to learn something in 30 seconds, essentially. They want a recipe that is going to be quick and easy. "Martha Stewart Living" is a completely different concept. She's reaching for a different audience with this one.

COOPER: So there is life, perhaps, for Omnimedia after Martha Stewart?

BRADY: I think there is but, you know, it's very difficult. This is a brand -- I can't think of another brand in America which is built so much around a personality. She likes to compare it to Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse. But you know, Mickey Mouse is a character that doesn't age. You or I could draw Mickey Mouse and it will continue. Martha is a living person, she hosts a daily TV show.

COOPER: Mickey Mouse is loved by everyone.

BRADY: And Martha, on the other hand, oddly enough is not.

COOPER: Does history give us any example of other companies so closely identified to one individual and how have they fared?

BRADY: Well, it's interesting, you know, Puff Daddy, which obviously is a different case, but when he got cleared of the gun charges, he changed actually changed his name to P. Diddy. And I was talking to people this week and they suggested Martha change her name to M. Squiggy and see how that works.

But there hasn't been a lot of cases.

COOPER: "George" magazine?

BRADY: "George" magazine, definitely. That folded. And that wasn't with the name of JFK, Jr. That folded. One difference with that is it never made money. And the most he did was, you know, pose naked and badmouth his cousins in one issue. But that was a very good case of a personality centered magazine that just couldn't last once the personality was gone. COOPER: All right. We'll see what happens with Martha. Diane Brady, thanks for being with us.

BRADY: Thank you.

COOPER: All right.


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