Thursday, 26 September 2013

Personal Brand failures: Martha Stewart

Martha Stewart, Inc.  Managing a corporeal brand (embedded link) is a recent blog post and promotional trail for an upcoming journal publication co-authored by the newest member of the Royal Holloway marketing team, Professor Giana Eckhardt, who will include MBA marketing teaching in her portfolio of activities.  

Martha Stewart is a huge personal brand in USA, having dominated the homemaking segment in accessorising, fabrics, entertaining and even through a self-named magazine title. 
Professor Giana Eckhardt, Royal Holloway Marketing
There is no equivalent brand in UK but think Liberty, Mary Berry, Grand Designs and Dragons Den put together and you might have something approaching the magnitude of the Martha factor.  Imprisonment a decade ago resulting from a financial scandal has seen the company's fortunes take what appears to be a permanent reversal of fortune.  David Beckham, ex-England captain, style clothes peg and footballing superbrand, seems to have recovered his wholesome, family man image despite an unfortunate G-string twang text incident.   Lord Jeffrey Archer was able to rebuild to some extent after his sojourn in jail, with continued success with his novels  (250m worldwide sales ?)  but his Conservative party grandee status was permanently revoked.  Popular culture icons in the entertainment industry e.g. George Michael, Boy George and Lindsay Lohan appear to emerge unscathed from a short spell of chummage.  (Victorian term for prison and source of contemporary term 'chum' or friend, the penal system inversion association now lost in the winds of time).  Giana's paper provides some insightful thinking around the celebrity-personality-becomes-major-brand idea, where the entrepreneur owner fails to find the right way to loosen their personal control.  Entrepreneurial business school graduate Stelios, founder and majority stakeholder in low cost airline easyjet, and founder of the easygroup, appears to have done this at about the right time and left in his wake a grown up management team to lead the airline into middle aged maturity.  Richard Branson, who has devolved operational control of many of his businesses to experienced industry silver backs, appears to be preparing his children for succession, although a family flight on one of the inaugural Virgin Galactic space jaunts may not be strategic.  Very, very on brandson though (weak pun !), with his flair for adventure projects/PR stunts e.g. Blue Ribbon speed boat record setting, elephant riding and high altitude ballooning endeavours.