The Next Martha?

When Martha Stewart first got into trouble a few years ago, speculation began immediately over who would replace her as the official authority on all things domestic.

Now, just as Stewart prepares to head to jail for five months, Hachette Filipacchi has made a move that could possibly contribute to establishing the next Martha, as they have hired Home and Garden Television personality and interior designer Candice Olson as a contributing editor for both Woman's Day and Home magazine.

Olson hosts the popular "Divine Design with Candice Olson," on HGTV, which features a drab room or space being transformed into something more contemporary. For Woman's Day, she will pen a column titled "Divine Design Ideas," to be published in five issues per year.

For Home magazine, Olson, who just renewed her contract with HGTV for another five years, will create a print version of "Divine Design," taking readers through room makeovers in six issues per year.



It will be interesting to see how Hachette will use Olson's brand image and influence if this new content is received well, given that Stewart is out of the public eye for several months. Martha Stewart Living has lost advertisers and readers steadily since her demise, and some of her ex-readers may be seeking home advice elsewhere.

For the record, no one at Hachette is making any claim that Olson will pursue Stewart's throne, saying that the hire is part of these titles' continued coverage of home decorating.

Jane Chesnutt, Woman's Day's editor-in-chief said in a statement: "I am confident that readers will eagerly respond to Candice's knowledge and creative design direction and welcome incorporating her style into their individual homes. I am delighted to welcome her to our team."

Woman's Day, the tenth largest consumer magazine in the country, has struggled at the newsstand of late. Meanwhile Home's performance has been solid, with ad pages having increased by 9 percent through August of this year. However, as the shelter category becomes more and more crowded, particularly with the launch of Time Inc.'s Cottage Living, the infusion of a unique and well known personality could be just what the title needs to further distinguish itself.

It's also possible that other publishers will continue to look elsewhere in search of the next Martha. In the past, Katie Brown, host of A&E's "All Year Round with Katie Brown," B. Smith, and fellow HGTV personality Chris Casson Madden have been mentioned as candidates.

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