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Ann Coulter's "Jew perfected" comment -- branding or theology?

According to this CBS News report, Donny Deutsch told AdWeek: “Candidly, I had her on not to talk about politics but to talk about her brand strategy. Whether you like her or not, her strategy is to be extreme and that's a way to make money. But because it's her, it drifted into politics."

Coulter was a guest on Deutsch’s show The Big Idea, where he asked her to “give her version of a better America.” As CBS News reports, she said that “it would look like New York City during the 2004 Republican National Convention.” (quoting CBS News here, not Coulter)

Deutsch asked Coulter to explain and she said “People were happy. They're Christian. They're tolerant. They defend America ..."

Deutsch interrupted Coulter to say: "Christian ... so we should be Christian? It would be better if we were all Christian?"

Coulter replied “Yes” twice.

According to the news report, Coulter tried to “shift the conversation,” but Deutsch repeatedly brought it back to her comments about Jews.

And Coulter accepted Deutsch’s provocation, later stating: “We just want Jews to be perfected…That is what Christianity is.”

The reality is that Coulter’s comments fit right in with her brand strategy. That is, she stuck with her “promise” to be extreme in her point of view--to go so far out on the precipice that there is no coming back. The comments also seemed to fit in with a brand strategy on Deutsch’s part, as he kept purposely bringing her back to her comments about Jews and Judaism. Maybe being outrageous is part of having a big idea.

Coulter's dismissal of the validity of Judaism as a religion is anti-Semitic, of that there is no doubt. The real question that remains is, was Coulter only "doing branding" or sincerely expressing herself as a Christian believer?

The answer, probably, is both.

Talbots to review brand positioning--hopefully they will go MORE classic, not less

The Boston Globe has an article today about Talbots (the clothing brand, remember them?) hiring a consultant to "sharpen its brand" to appeal to women over 35. VP of investor relations at Talbots Julie Lorigan admits that "we haven't gotten it right yet...we're not offering the customer exactly what she needs -- and we need to do that."
The article quotes Todd D. Slater, managing director of retail and consumer equity research at Lazard Capital Markets, saying that "the baby boomer customer has been less interested in the traditional look for quite some time." Slater thinks Talbots should be "a little more forward. A little more in step with current fashion."
That comment is idiotic. Talbots is doing badly because its current "classic" designs stink, not because it should abandon classic design.

When I think of Talbot's great years, I think of preppy clothing for grown-ups. Rich color, rich texture, rich design. Now go take a look at the Talbots website. The pants (the ones on the upper right, on the model with the red jacket)? Too short - trying to copy that capri look? Ugh. The red jacket with the wrap belt--nice, but what is the model doing with a camisole underneath? That's not classic -- that's tacky! And those boots! What are we, back to the '80s? And what's with the cheap-looking leather and suede? Where are the classic, rich leather, stack heeled boots that will never go out of style? I'll admit, they have another outfit on there that's nice -- the white brocade jacket and long, wide-legged pants -- why don't they go with more clothes like that?
Also, while we're on the subject, that model is all wrong...she doesn't look like an over-35 young baby boomer. She looks like a gawky under-35. No, no, no.
If you have time, click on the entire collection to take a look. Most of their stuff is tacky -- yuk. They need to hire a name designer to put his or her stamp on the collection...really go out there...pearls and cashmere and leather and plaid, plaid, plaid.
Also, their price points are too low...the clothing should be more expensive than it is.
You go Talbots! I have faith in you!

Martha Stewart stock due for a rise

As MarketWatch noted Sept. 27, Martha Stewart is back, and she’s better than ever. “‘Brand Martha,’ says the site, is not only untarnished but on a major roll.” How do we know? As MarketWatch notes:
  • Her magazines are “bursting with ad pages”
  • Her “partnerships with major retailers are expanding”—like Macy’s, which is debuting 2,000 products in the first season that her collection is at the stores
  • Former President Bill Clinton appeared as a guest on her daily TV show
  • She signed a deal with
  • She opened her first co-branded residential community with KB Home
  • She has agreements with Fine Living TV and the DIY cable network
  • She will soon be selling a line of food at Costco
  • Clarkson Potter/Publishers has announced a new 10 book, five year deal with the company
  • She has also signed a deal with E&J Gallo Winery to sell “Martha Stewart Vintage” wine (Wikipedia)

The financials are fantastic, notes MarketWatch:

  • Revenue at Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia was up 7% in the last quarter
  • Ad revenue at Martha Stewart Living was up more than 20% to $89.8 million January through June
  • Revenue for the Martha Stewart wedding publication was up 16% vs. an industry average of 6%

Yet the stock price is flat – shares are currently at about $13.20 (October 8) vs. a 52-week high of $23.21 last December.

Bear Stearns, says the site, issued a fairly positive report on Martha Stewart, noting that “business trends are solid” and “the balance sheet is strong” and that the Macy’s launch could boost the brand even further.

On top of that, the Today show recently held “A Martha Stewart Wedding,” choosing a couple to bestow a Martha-Stewart style wedding ceremony upon. Great publicity.

The only thing that bothers me, to be honest, is the product: I don’t love it. But enough people love the image and the ideas that I think her brand is solid and here to stay.