12.31.2012

New Year. New Look. New Focus.

When I sat down this morning to reflect on the year that was at Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, I felt a little overwhelmed, as though I had been hit over the head with a rolled-up magazine. I’m a great believer in change and progress but the shifts that have taken place at Martha Stewart Living over the last year have been difficult to take, at least from my perspective. Indeed, it is only when you really start to tally up the losses that occured in 2012 that the magnitude of change truly becomes apparent.

The cancellation of all Martha Stewart television programming on the Hallmark Channel, including the award-winning Martha Stewart Show (and the loss of the studio where it was filmed) represented the first tide of disappointment for many fans of the Martha Stewart brand. More recently, it was the announcement that Everyday Food would cease publiation as a stand-alone magazine - a popular read for nearly ten years – and would become a periodical supplement issued five times a year. This sad news came the same day it was announced that Whole Living magazine – a health and lifestye publication Martha Stewart Living had acquired in 2005 – would also be shut down.

In December, the resignation of Gael Towey, the company’s chief creative and editorial director, came as a huge shock to many. It represents an enormous loss of talent to the company, and as a fan of the brand, her departure certainly gives me cause for concern. Towey had been instrumental in rendering the company’s creative design principles through all its media since its inception in the early 1990s. Her loss will definitely be felt.

Other long-time talents, such as collecting editor Fritz Karch, publication designer James Dunlinson and decorating editor Rebecca Robertson, have also left the company, quietly slipping under the radar.

Finally, Lisa Gersh, the company’s CEO, announced just last week that she is resigning once a replacement has been found for her. Gersh was not able to bring the company to profitability, despite aggressive cuts and deals with new partners. (Gersh is the fifth CEO to leave MSLO in a decade.)

On top of these changes, the company is facing a problematic lawsuit from one of its longterm partners, Macy’s. It is alleged that MSLO violated its contract with the retailer by signing a new merchandising agreement with one of its rivals, JC Penney. The lawsuit is currently before the courts even as the new Martha Stewart line of home goods is set to roll out at JC Penney later this month.

How all of this change and turmoil has affected the morale of fans of the Martha Stewart brand cannot be adequately expressed without first discussing the path the company has identified as its new course. Compiling the sentiments expressed in numerous interviews with Martha Stewart executives and the company’s press releases, it seems clear that Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia intends to become a company more focused on merchandising than content. This aim has already been reflected in the company’s decision to shut down two of its magazines while simultaneously touting new digital platforms and launching a new product line with JC Penney.   

Martha Stewart fans love the glitter, the kitchen products and crafts supplies. Yes, we love the furniture, the paint, the kitchen and bathroom hardware. But all of it is just ‘stuff’ stuck with a pretty round logo without a soul to support it. And that brings me to how we, as fans, are feeling about the Martha Stewart brand as a whole. I can perhaps sum it up with one probing question: “Who stole the soul of Martha Stewart Living and how can we get it back?”

Remnants of the soulfulness that first enchanted me still exist within the brand. I’ve seen it glimmering in Martha’s eyes on her wonderful PBS series, Martha Stewart’s Cooking School, a how-to program that was enthusiastically embraced by fans and critics alike. I’ve seen it sparkling on the crafts and cookies Martha shared with us from her kitchen in Bedford on her web series, Countdown to Christmas – another beautiful television supplement reminiscent of her television program from the 1990s.

I’ve seen it, too, in the pages of Martha Stewart Living magazine, although with less verve than I’ve seen in past issues. Features on make-up, clothing and skincare do not resonate with me as a reader, perhaps because I am male and not representative of the target market of 20-to-30-something females, but more likely because I am not a fan of advertising disguised as content. (A feature extolling the virtues of Botox in the April, 2012, issue nearly did me in.) Consistent product placement turns me off, especially in a magazine that began as a do-it-yourself, how-to guide that championed good taste, quality craftsmanship and carefully-curated style. I will not go so far to say that the magazine has ‘lost its soul’ because much of the content still inspires me, through photographs and ideas, but I do not sit with Living as long as I used to and I care less about whether or not these newer issues become damaged or dogeared. There is something missing, something off.

I have not ruled out the possibility that my tastes have changed, as well. I have been exposed to many beautiful publications that have emerged in 2012, magazines that remind me why I love magazines in the first place: Gather Journal, Kinfolk, Anthology, Uppercase, FOLK, Sweet Paul, Pure Green and Lone Wolf. These are artful, beautiful lifestyle quarterlies that reflect my interest in editorial quality and I am willing to pay more to read them.  The paper they use for print is beautiful. The photography is stunning. The writing is thoughtful and eloquent and the design is modern. In short, the creators have invested true passion into their publications and it is evident in the pages.

Recently, financial news website 24/7 Wall Street predicted that Martha Stewart Living magazine will cease publication in 2013, and other analysts seem to agree that in order to survive, Martha’s company may have to shutter its flagship publication in order to cut costs and achieve profitability.

What Wall Street analysts don’t seem to understand (shockingly!) is that more than anything, a company like Martha’s requires a vision, a sense of passion and a sense of duty. That’s how MSLO began and that’s why I fell in love with the company all those years ago. This vision and the entire crux of the Martha Stewart ideal is cradled in the pages of that magazine. Shut it down and you permanently eclipse the very life the magazine’s title encourages.

Year after year Martha Stewart’s vision is being chipped away with shrewd terms like “cost-cutting measures” and “layoffs.” High rates of employee turnover at the company, from the executive level down, reflect a corporate culture in deep turmoil and conflict, one that cannot seem to reconcile its mandate with its deep desire to make money.

Fans and readers, viewers and listeners want Martha Stewart Living to be successful. I want to see it thrive. I want to see it grow and prosper and develop. But when it comes right down to it, all that Martha Stewart’s readers and fans truly want is to be respected enough to be given the quality content and merchandise we expect from a name like Martha Stewart.

We, your bread and butter (and I am speaking now to the Martha Stewart powers that be) do not care about profit margins and bar graphs. We don’t care about ad sales. We just want to be inspired, to be dazzled and gobsmacked by the content you produce. We want to admire and adore the people who create it just as we want them to be inspired by our lives and our passions. We want beautiful things for our home made of quality materials, items that reflect a modern sensibility with traditional roots and great design. So, in the immortal words of Tim Gunn, “Make it work.” Figure out how to give us what we want and need and treat us longtime supporters and customers with the respect we have earned. Tough love, perhaps, but love nonetheless.
I designed these covers, above, to prove to myself that Martha Stewart Living could be a beautiful quarterly or bi-monthly magazine, should the magazine decide to downsize its operations. I "Kinfolked" the design and brought the Martha Stewart logo to the fore. Four issues would focus on a given season. The other two issues would be devoted to entertaining and Holiday. 
 
CELEBRATING THE GOOD THINGS
Now that I have that off my chest, I can tell you about what I want Martha Moments to become in 2013. This last year was a banner year for this blog, which saw a drastic increase in traffic over previous years. Fellow bloggers have linked to and highlighted Martha Moments on their blogs while digital magazines, such as Lonny and Sweet Paul, have also taken notice. I’m pleased and proud that the work I have done on this blog – completely independent of any support or encouragement from Martha Stewart Living, I must add – has been impressive to many of the blogs and magazines I admire.

One of the most popular Martha Moments columns was “Looking Back to Move Forward” – my monthly tribute to a former issue of Martha Stewart Living magazine that I cherish and find influential to this day. Readers have also come to rely on Martha Moments for news about Martha Stewart’s products, books and magazines, which I’ve always tried to provide by ‘mining’ the web for information and collecting it here for future reference. I have also enjoyed writing posts about the domestic subjects and special people who represent, in some way, the essence of what Martha Stewart stands for: entrepreneurship, artistry, design, excellence and domestic pride. Posts about people making their own mark in the sphere of lifestyle content, the same way Martha did all those years ago, keep me inspired and interested in how the culture of ‘living’ is shifting and evolving. So many of these artists, designers and writers owe so much to Martha’s groundbreaking efforts in the field, no matter how indirectly. This is a point that is never lost on me, which is why they are their own shining example of a Martha Moment made real. Most of all, I’m honoured that my opinion and perspective has mattered to the thousands of people who visit Martha Moments every day from all over the world.

So, 2013, will focus more on the things I love about Martha Stewart. If I don’t love it, I’m not going to write about it. The frequency of the posts here will be in direct proportion to how inspired I am (or am not) by Martha Stewart Living and its offerings.  I intend to continue to consider Martha’s entire oeuvre (spanning two decades) and to dig stuff out of the archives to highlight here, articulating all the things I have fallen in love with over the years. Whether it’s a single photograph from one of her magazines, an article, a book, a television episode or a room in one of Martha’s houses, I will make a Martha Moment out of it.

Curated. That’s my buzz word for 2013. Thank you all for taking the time to read this and I wish you all a very Happy New Year.

38 comments:

Kate said...

Oh a world without Martha Stewart Living is just too awful a thought! It is the benchmark against which all other publications are judged. I agree with you that the soul of Martha has been lacking but I hope against hope that we can get it back. It is a Good Thing!

ANDREW RITCHIE said...

I too would be devastated if MSL left the world. The soul is still there, but it's being forgotten or overlooked in favour of crude money-making strategies. Very disappointing.

Darrell white said...

Great article Andrew. Especially comment about product placement disguised as content...

david bondarchuck said...

Andrew...

Can I get a witness! you nailed it!

"We, your bread and butter (and I am speaking now to the Martha Stewart powers that be) do not care about profit margins and bar graphs. We don’t care about ad sales. We just want to be inspired, to be dazzled and gobsmacked by the content you produce. We want to admire and adore the people who create it just as we want them to be inspired by our lives and our passions. We want beautiful things for our home made of quality materials, items that reflect a modern sensibility with traditional roots and great design. So, in the immortal words of Tim Gunn, “Make it work.” Figure out how to give us what we want and need and treat us longtime supporters and customers with the respect we have earned. "

Its time for Martha to take over again as CEO, or why wait? get Alexis in there-and now that the cleaning house is hopefully been done, yes lots of people were lost but perhaps they didnt evolve with the concept of Living. Its time to bring back old format Martha in her barn and on her property-segments in a new show. But the real key here is to also developing new talents...

DO YOU SEE RALPH LAUREN'S FACE ON EVERY BATH TOWEL AND POLO?

Everyday Food
Mad Hungry
The next Martha Star? a play on a reality gig to be the next martha talent.
Help me Martha- have an issue? Martha will come fix it... Wouldn't it be great to see Martha have a fit like Tabitha's take over? LOL
Traveing the globe show
Martha Bakes
Martha's Cooking School

Anyhow the point is the talent and contant is there... We just need to get it on a channel.

Sell the ads of the companies that carry the goods that get used in the shows and pictured in the magazine... isn't this what it has always been?

Perhaps Oprah and OWN, could benefit with MSLO programing?

Merch? you wanna talk Merch? where is the online Martha store? bring back the online catalog!

and boom theres me on a soap box!

Anonymous said...

Andrew,
Ironically, as the number of monthly pages in MSL shrink, I find myself relying on Martha Moments more and more. If the folks at MSL need a lesson in "soul", they can get here, in your blog pages. While I love your insight and insider's view of all things Martha, I also love your original content. And your photography is awesome!
Best wishes for 2013 Andrew.
Cheers
Vicki

Kenn said...

This post, my friend, is spot on. SPOT ON. You have summed up what I've been feeling for quite some time. Soul. MSLO definitely needs to reclaim its soul.

B : ) said...

What a beautiful well-written article, Andrew. You have said much more eloquently and tactfully exactly what I began thinking a year or so ago which is - Martha has become a commercial (or an ad). I stopped watching her show before they stopped showing it - it was one big long commercial. I stopped paying much attention to the Living Magazine - one big long ad. I stopped reading the Crafts blog - almost never teaching me how to make things, just one big long ad. I have so much respect for Martha and all she has done with her life and for others' lives, but I don't like commercials.

maya said...

I agree wholeheartedly. The loss of Everyday Food is especially sad for me, since it's pretty much the only MSLO publication that has maintained its high standards over the last years. The increase in "sponsored" content is undeniable, but the recipes, photographs and the overall no-fuss attitude (which all still come through in the beautiful cooking videos with Sarah Carey) are still inspiring.

May this be a great year for Martha Moments!

Anonymous said...

The constant changes and experiments to the magazine that each Chief Editor seems to usher in has turned me off of the magazine (the covers are no longer eye catching and unique--they're lackluster to me).


I've been a staunch supporter of their brand, magazines, etc. for a very long time, but I came to a decision in November that I would not renew my subscription beyond the expiration date. Over the years I have seen a great reduction to the inspiring meals/recipes from the flagship magazine, and with the demise of Everyday Food, what are we going to do? We can't survive on makeup tips, bedsheets and glitter! The lack of engaging, thoughtfully written articles in MSL just doesn't work for me anymore. I want to read & learn something, not just look at a few photographs with a sentence or two. I think the company underestimates the intelligence of its readers.
{As a blogger I've come to learn NEVER to do this.}

The departures of Gael, Fritz and others have been too much of a loss of talent for the company; it saddened me to learn this. The JCP/Macys debacle is something that may be even more of a headache; let's not forget the HSN lawsuit against Martha & Emeril for those knives. Quite frankly, I'm actually tired of the legal drama.

I use Tim Gunn's line all the time Andrew, and I agree. MSLO: MAKE IT WORK!

Ab said...

Great article. This reminds me of what happened to another of my favorite magazines, Victoria. Originally it was wonderful and the vision of the editor. Then they dumped the editor, brought in new people, turned it into a big ad and it went belly up. I really hope the same thing doesn't happen with MSL. They need more Martha, just as you said. A person'a vision not a board's.

hortus2 said...

I have always loved what you do Andrew, and how you are able in your blog posts and curated pics to capture all that we loved originally about MSL. Why they don't take you on board to steer the ship back to where it should be is beyond me ;c)

When $ is the deciding factor, content and style seem to always suffer. But you have given them a great option if the monthly magazine is to be sacrificed (which would be ludicrous, since we don't want the 'cheap' stuff at JCP - we want to be inspired) with your idea for seasonal issues. I think this is a stroke of genius. They have already done this a bit with their Halloween issues, etc. but they'll have to make them even better to get people to pay the big bucks for each.

But I think people will. I clicked on each of the magazines you mentioned as inspirational and decided to subscribe to two of them (even though one is *very* expensive!) But I also value having something in my lap that isn't heating up lol!

All the best,
Ailsa

ANDREW RITCHIE said...

Thanks for all the great comments. I'm glad I'm not alone in my frustration. I'm hopeful that MSL can turn things around - but they need to act fast.

Pru said...

I agree that Martha needs to stand up and take over again, but that she also needs to speak to her 'bread and butter' to see from the outside what people can see is going wrong. If she got down from her pedestal for a while then this would help.

Although I buy the magazine each month (and still save them all) I'm no so excited about going to the shop for the next issue. The articles are boring, I'm not inspired or learning anything from them.

Tyler said...

I think you've hit the nail on the head with this one.

I was sad to let my subscription to MSL go, but just had to. Now I pick it up at the grocery checkout while waiting or browse through at the library. It's definitely a shadow of what it Once Was.

Couldn't agree with you more on this beautifully written, thought-provoking post. I only hope that Martha sees it...

Darryl Moland said...

This is the first I've seen about Gael Towey, Fritz Karch and James Dunlison leaving the fold--that is dire news indeed. I have been an avid follower of Martha Stewart Living magazine since it began. I too believe it has lost its soul. A large part of it is the publishing environment right now being in a transition between print and digital. But I think a key part of it, is as Martha has gotten richer and become more of a celebrity, that she has lost touch with the readers (especially the ones who have followed the brand since it was only a flagship magazine). The magic has gone out of it. I haven't been truly impressed with a December issue of the magazine since the 12-Days of Christmas issue when people like the company's self-professed "Father Christmas" Eric Pike seemed to have a large say in the editorial. Martha, I'm afraid has lost touch with the financial end of things also, as garnered from this scathing article in the NYT: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/10/business/at-martha-stewart-living-martha-may-be-the-problem.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0
I am far from pinpointing the problem I'm sure, but as far as a corporate culture goes, I feel the brand has become "inbred." And only a few anointed employees are having far too much control over the editorial. This is an "outside, looking in" opinion though. I have no idea what could be transpiring there to weaken a brand that has always been able to mesh the aspirational with the achievable with an immutable identity and style. I also think the company has sold out to too many franchises in the name big money--witness all the plastic ornaments sold at Home Depot. At least the plastic ornaments at K-mart had signature metal caps on them. I can only hope I can get a December issue of the magazine next year that totally excites me as many of them have in the past.

Mario said...

As a hard core fan, I too have noticed the decline in the content and aesthetics in the brand. I find myself far more excited to visit The Martha Blog than I do receiving the latest issue of Living. I guess what I need from the brand is insight into the rigor required to excel and continually strive to be the very best- at everything. I'm craving inspiration and originally. I have my doubts that the company can transform itself. The broth has been too watered down. Time to start a new batch.

Stephanie Cook said...

Andrew, you speak for many. I hope it's not true about MSL - it's hard to imagine losing both the TV show and the magazine.
The focus has turned to online and away from print and TV. I'm not sure they had a choice - the move to cable wasn't good for Martha or Oprah - what else was left?
It'd be lovely if Martha would address your concerns but I think she's doing what she's told she has to do, all the while describing herself as an optimist and acting as head cheerleader for new projects. I doubt she really wants it this way anymore than her fans do.
Your idea of MSL as a quarterly is excellent. I could live with that, and occasional pilgrimages to Macys (and Penney's).
I was thinking during the holidays how nice it would be if you got invited to one or all of Martha's homes and gave us a behind the scenes report. You've earned it.
Thanks for keeping us informed. You're a treasure.

Christina said...

Great article, great points. I only hope the brass at the magazine read it and then read it again to let it all sink in. And as a female, I don't like all the makeup/fashion either. Teaching me to knit a sweater, yes. Telling me where I can buy a sweater for $$$, no.

Anonymous said...

At thrift stores, tag sales used book sales I often find MS books books at great prices older books that were apparently gifts --that were shelved for many years lucky me. My MS can opener fell apart now there is glue oozing from the handle. The sheets and matlasse comforter are showing age however the sheets are a timeless design ( all purchased a K-Mart on sale ) The magazine used to have Martha on the cover --she told us those were time consuming and schedule conflicts made them impossible to shoot the beginning of the end in my book-- Companies have a life cycle and MS always resorting to cooking segments the least expensive show to shoot but The barefoot Contessa is engaging for the field trips -- Martha's show would do field trips the show has evolved from "specials" but not so much today. Merchandizing how much of it is an agreement to be associated with a product where is the quality control. One thing I have learned from Martha stewart Tag sales are a Good thing. We need to let bygones be bygones The Blog and ads on the blog the social media apps to attract a yonger audience well MS even released a CD of Holiday music selling Turkey Hill ....

LH said...

I have to agree. I have been avidly reading MSL since it's inaugural publication. I used to covet the 4 hours I would spend reading the magazine cover to cover when the issue first arrived. And I adored Martha by Mail - the quality of the products matched the quality of the magazine. And then they "dumbed" down the content. I loved that the craft projects used to be horribly difficult and required a high level of blood, sweat and tears to reproduce such beauty - I still have my perfectly crafted velvet wreath that took me two weeks to make!

While I will hate to see MSL go, it is not such a loss since the trajectory of the magazine has been a downward one for the last 5-7 years.

Anonymous said...

Your essay is spot on -- all is not well for Martha fans. I hope she reads it and shares your insights with her team. With all their talent and stockpile of content, why is it so difficult for MSLO to give us what we want?

Changing subjects, my husband just emailed me a link with gift ideas for friends that sail on the Great Lakes. Then I saw this - wouldn't it be nice in Martha's Skyland map room? http://www.belowtheboat.com/products/mount-desert-island

Jamie said...

The issue I cannot get past is she doesn't feel like much of a "do-er" any more. It's true she's always had staff helping craft her image etc. but it was kept behind the scenes and she actually appeared to be involved in testing recipes, decorating rooms, creating floral arrangements. Now, she constantly features her gardeners, cleaning staff, chef etc. To me, that Martha touch is absent and has been since prison.

The problem for MSLO is that the competition studied her formula, improved on it and moved forward. She did not. Having worked for the company on the merchandising side, I can tell you that the need to create beautiful and innovative products is not there. It's all how much money can we eek out of a product by putting Martha's name on it. I felt at least with the product at Kmart, she was democratizing design for all of us. Yes, the measuring spoons were plastic, but they were well design, color coded in "Martha" colors and functioned well.

I feel she herself is no longer connected to what she initially started and grew. She enjoys being the elder stateswoman, the celebrity and wants to pull as much money out of the company as possible for herself, Kevin Sharkey and her daughter. Just my two cents.

Anonymous said...

I am so sad that MS Living magazine may end soon. But I believe your blog post is so true. The company has not been able to keep up with the changes in tv programming, audience, and other tv personalities. Someone "moved their cheese" and they were unable to see all the new competition coming their way. I miss her tv show & Kmart line. Martha may just be ready to relax and focus on her grandchildren, homes & travel.

Louise said...

Go back to the early issues of the magazine - over the top, abundant, glorious- the essence of everything that is Martha, inspiring and original. The new magazine is a paltry offering of recycled concepts, boring filler and marketing gimmicks - sigh. I agree - let's get back to classic Martha.

ANDREW RITCHIE said...

I neglected to mention in my post that every mainstream monthly lifestyle magazine out there is suffering from the same illness. There isn't a single one that captivates me anymore, with the possible exception of Elle Decor. This is why I've had to discover more groundbreaking publications that are harder to find, more expensive but a million times more inspiring. It's not just Martha, it's the entire industry.

Anonymous said...

Andrew Andrew Andrew-- don't bite the hand that could feed you look into the Freemantlemedia martha Stewart connection honestly these blogs that are creative and Quirky have a chance to be the breath of fresh air. This Global Conglomerate is looking for shake this Martha connection spread your wings and fly that includes you too gentle reader maybe everyone does not translate to TV but a call in radio show how easy is that to sit and Talk that is what martha wants to de er evolve to a Talk Show she has said this More power to her what is her cause She has a Horse in this race

Anonymous said...

Another Martha Stewart magazine that ended its print was Blueprint magazine. I forget if it was this past year or before.

Anonymous said...

I love the 4 magazine covers you designed. I definitely think that Martha Stewart needs some good change while keeping her true colors still showing. Martha Stewart is a great brand and will continue to be a great brand. She is signed on to continue with her company until 2017 the least. Her name is what attracts people. I don't knew why her name printed on the Living magazine wasn't reverted back to bigger after she was released from you know where. I love the 2-3 minute video clip segments from Christmas and I hope she continues doing things like that on her website. I think Living should be renamed to The Martha Stewart Magazine and should be showcased every few months like what you are saying. Make her name on it big because people are attracted by her name. If I'm at the grocery store looking for a magazine that has Valentine's Day ideas, I would (and I'm sure most would) be attracted becuase of her name. In an odd way, it's kind of like CNN. CNN here in the United States hasn't been doing so well these past few years but it is still #1 when major news happens becuase people who don't normally watch the news, turn to CNN for breaking news because it's a known name brand.

The Captain's Daughter said...

Well said, Andrew. I so miss the quality of MS products. The days of Martha by Mail are sorely missing and have been for too many years.

As for television, while I thoroughly enjoy Martha's Cooking School on PBS, I miss seeing her every day as part of regular network programming. As for MS publications I must agree with you that the content of MSL is no longer what it once was --- It no longer holds my interest or inspires me and, I'm a girl!

I had very much hoped that Martha would return as CEO - without her the company lacks everything that is Martha Stewart.

Wishing you a very happy new year that delivers perfect health and all the love and happiness you wish for!

xo

Ramona said...

Dear Andrew, thankyou for so succinctly expressing what so many of us feel. I started collecting the magazine in 1996 (not easy in Australia) and was a committed disciple of the brand. With the advent of the iPad edition I stopped collecting, which was so strange for me because I'd been so obsessive about it! At first i thought I'd just outgrown it but this year as you have reflected on past issues I have found myself revisiting my Martha shelves and pulling out decades old magazines to enjoy all over again. With the constant streamlining something has been lost. I do think however that they have a great team and it is possible to inject the soul back in there. Perhaps with the shedding of whole living, everyday food, the tv show etc they can refocus. Remember how devastated we all were when Kids and Blueprint folded? Wow now I really am getting nostalgic. Happy new year from Melbourne Australia Andrew and thanks for all your thoughtful posts

Ramona

Anonymous said...

does anyone know how/where I can get my hands on the old Martha Stewart Living (1993-2004) shows??

They really need to release them on DVD...I'm sure they would be snapped up, making a good profit for her!

ANDREW RITCHIE said...

Anonymous, they released 12 DVDs containing old segments of her old show. You can still find them used on Amazon.com. Just search "Martha Stewart" under DVD and you'll see the selection. Unfortunately, they stopped the DVD series, ironically because it was not making money...

chandlerguera said...

Thanks for this informative article; I'm shocked and saddened to hear the brand is struggling so much. Perhaps she oversaturated herself. The MS brand is in many of the big box stores. I will definitely miss the television programming and magazines.

Rowaidaa said...

Great article Andrew and I agree with you and with some of the comments posted. I hope this year will be a better and successful year for Martha and her company. Shes will always be an inspiration to me and many others around the world.

Miss Kitty said...

Thanks for all the info...I had no idea all that was going on behind the scenes. I just found your blog and will be following you.

homeofthehuskies said...

I totally agree with your comments. The latest issues of Living are so thin now and so much about makeup and fashion. I wnat the old Martha back. I still have my old issues and I still look at them all the time. The new ones i tend to look at once or twice then shelve them.
Also I read on previous blogs about people having old vhs of Martha's show or dvd's. I would love to buy these from anyone. I only have a few tapes from her old show and would love to see more. I live in Canada and the Hallmark channel was never available to watch her new show (although I really hated the studio audience and so many guests).
If anyone wants to give or sell their old dvd's or tapes please let me know. I have all the store bought dvd's as well.
Thanks for a great blog

Anonymous said...

Happy New Year, Andrew. Agree totally with your assessment of the thinning of Living. It has felt like that to me for the longest time.

Last year's issues were definitely an all-time low. The plastic surgery article was indeed awful. So, too, recent articles about celebrations for Martha's grandchildren. That felt over the top and out of kilter with many people's experiences and wage packet.

Incredibly sad that Gael Towey has left. She is the creative wellspring and a classy person. Very strange that there is no mention of Gael's leaving on the MLSO website. I wish Gael the most beautiful next phase of her life.

Sometimes, I have longed for the 'soul' to return and have bought Living in the hope that it will be there but maybe it is time for me, like Gael, to step away. I don't think the soul is coming back - the soulful people have largely left.

This must have been an enormously thrilling ride for Martha. A 'rags' to riches tale. She now has a different life and I think the signs are that she wants to live that life to the full with her grandkids etc. I wouldn't be surprised if she wound up the company in coming years.

Somebody else on here put 'spread your wings and fly'. Meaning for you to use your talent in other ways and for readers too to find pastures new. Maybe that is the point of the title: Living. To forget the Martha Stewart part and instead to live our own lives creatively, passionately and kindly. Happy New Year everyone.

Rob D said...

Just found your blog and what a great post. You have really captured what is so special about the brand and what is somewhat off right now. I have every issue of ML Living (expect issue #1!) as well as Blueprint and it has been interesting (and frustrating) watching the ebb and flow of things, especially recently. I teach graphic design and showcase the early issues of both of these publications and how they established new ground and raised the bar for editorial design. (I enjoyed reading your assessment of Blueprint.)

I also saw the Wall Street Journal article and it gave me a dull headache thinking the magazine would fold. I love your assessment of the meaning and power of the magazine in relation to the brand. You should go work there. You get it and the potential.

The reason I found your blog is I was trying to find out why Gael Towry left. I saw her name dropped from the masthead and knew something was up. Huge loss.

Your point of view is sharp and focused. Keep up the great work. Looking forward to reading more of your posts.