April 23, 2006

Young, affluent and at a loss? Meet Martha Stewart

By Paul Thomasch

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Martha Stewart will hit the newsstands
next month with a new magazine, betting she can appeal to busy
women who have money to spend and just happened to be in grade
school when she started writing cookbooks.

Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia has chosen to roll the dice
on another magazine, "Blueprint: Design Your Own Life," seeking
a younger audience for the lifestyle guru whose core base of
admirers are homemakers in their 40s and older.

Blueprint promises a trove of badly-needed tips on
decorating, dressing and entertaining to affluent women in
their thirties, said publisher Sally Preston.

In its 160-page first issue, writers profile a shade of
white that is "relaxed, lived in, with not even a hint of
preciousness." They also gush over a $1,700 trench coat;
condemn store-bought tissue boxes "made to look like pastel
faux marble" and even offer a recipe for a Blueprint Martini.

"Show us a magazine without a signature drink, and we'll
show you an uptight staff without priorities," it reads.

The launch comes at a risky time given the flow of
advertising dollars into new media like the Internet, a
development highlighted by the recent demise of several
prominent glossies.

Moreover, some believe that Stewart, 64, a former model,
stockbroker, and federal prisoner, is dangerously close to
oversaturating the public with her name and image.

But Omnimedia executives point out that the company's stock
has been on a tear, rising 15 percent this year, and
advertising at its flagship Martha Stewart Living magazine is
way up despite the industry's troubles.

"As a company right now we have so much momentum behind
us," Preston told Reuters. "That's the perception in the
marketplace and that's really helped us when we talked to

Upscale advertisers in the first issue include fashion
houses Calvin Klein and Kate Spade, furniture chain Crate &
Barrel, and home appliance maker Cuisinart.

The magazine arrives May 1 with a cover price of $3.50. A
circulation base is projected at 250,000 and a second issue is
due in August, which could be followed by six more next year.

Martha Stewart Living's ad pages are due to rise 70 percent
in the first quarter and the company has undertaken a string of
projects since Stewart's March 2005 release from prison, where
she spent five months for lying about a stock sale.

They include a "Martha" talk show, a design deal with
homebuilder KB Home, and a Macy's home products line.

But Stewart herself has suffered setbacks, including the
failure of her prime-time spinoff of NBC's corporate reality
show "The Apprentice." Stewart has also publicly feuded with
real estate mogul Donald Trump, the original "Apprentice" star.

But unlike many of her other projects, Stewart's name is
hardly prominent when it comes to Blueprint, where it appears
in a small red banner across the top of the cover.

Even so, Omnimedia editorial director Margaret Roach said
Stewart was highly involved in the magazine, coming up, for
instance, with the "Design Your Own Life" phrase in the name.

"It just popped out of her mouth one day!" said Roach.

Executives declined to provide start-up costs or targets,
but clearly hope a readership of young, well-heeled women with
careers to manage, rooms to redesign and dinner parties to
throw will attract big ad dollars.

"This is a transitional generation," said Roach. "A time
when a job is becoming a career, they may be going from single
to married, they may be buying a home, or at least trading up a
little bit."