Martha Stewart leaves her West Virginia prison this weekend. Decisions must be made.
Strategically, there are three options for the post-prison Martha:
1) act as if nothing happened, carry on as usual.
2) act as if something happened, but acknowledge it only outside the public Martha.
3) act as if something happened, and build it into the public Martha.
To judge from the public pronouncements of the Stewart team, Option 1 beckons. But its a terrible idea.
Five months of prison has refashioned Stewarts image. To pretend otherwise, to return Stewart to her “little miss perfect persona as a Connecticut arbiter of middle class taste, thats just crazy. Or to put this another way, theres always going to be an elephant on the sound stage, and this one’s wearing prison blues.
The old Martha Stewart was forbidding, inaccessible, a goddess of the status heights of Connecticut. She had to stoop to conquer and conquer she did.
This persona (and brand) is destroyed. Thank goodness. Like it or not, Stewart is more interesting and complex than before. She has suffered. She has come down from the mountain. Martha can now claim to know about life, and not just about style. She can feel our pain (having suffered some of her own).
In sum, option 3 is not just an option but an opportunity. The question is whether prison changed Martha Stewart. Is she capable of exhibited this for public purposes? Will the management team she has surrounded herself with rise to the occasion? Open questions, all.
“This blog sits at wishes her well. And thats not something any of us would have thought to do before. And thats a measure of the opportunity.
Barnes, Brooks. 2005. Susan Lyne: Relaunching of Martha: Keeping priorities straight
Fournier, Susan. 2003(?). Harvard Business School Case Study on Martha Stewart.
I am doing another hour on the Debbie Millman show on Voice America today, 3:00 to 4:00 eastern seaboard.