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Can the 'Stewart' Brand Live On?

March 13, 2004|From Associated Press

Martha Stewart has assembled a pool of talent at her company that could probably keep on creating recipes, crafts projects and linen designs to her standards without her.

But the question is: Should the company continue to use her name and image after her felony conviction?

The issue is of top concern as the board of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc. hashes out what type of role Stewart will play, if any, in the company's future.

Stewart resigned from her chief executive and chairwoman role in June after she was indicted on charges related to her sale of stock in ImClone Systems Inc. But she remains as chief creative officer and has a seat on the board.

Stewart, who is the company's largest shareholder, was expected to relinquish her board seat but possibly keep some creative, non-officer role.

Retail analysts differ on whether the company would be better off without the Martha Stewart name on its magazine titles and bath towel labels.

"I think they have to get as far away from her as they possibly can," said Robert Passikoff, president of Brand Keys Inc., a New York marketing research company.

"They have to drop her name from all the products. The more they wait, the more they will get hurt."

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