Martha Stewart Digs The Dirt

Domestic arts diva Martha Stewart is now selling dirt.

But it’s a much higher class of dirt -- and I mean that sincerely.

She’s got that roll-up-your-sleeves, make-it-from-scratch work ethic and decades of experience planting, seeding, and commanding armies of gardeners on her various estates behind her.

Therefore, announced this week, the pairing of Martha and Miracle-Gro seems about as natural as bringing the Target Lady to Target, or Marie Kondo to joy sparkage.  

Via the Martin Agency, the matchup includes a new ad campaign, “Gro Like Martha,” “that aims to shift the perceived complexity of gardening to a simple recipe for success, “ according to the release,

As with many of her tutorials, it’s for both new and time-honored gardeners: There’ll be an “Ask Martha” newsletter on the Miracle-Gro website, videos featuring Martha across Miracle-Gro’s social channels and sponsorship of Martha Gardens on the Roku Channel.



And for all of her omniverous  Omnipower, Martha  is good about making fun of her taskmaster self.  The two spots that Martin has released so far have an honesty and easy directness that connects.

Part of the honesty comes from appearing with her longtime Bedford estate head gardener, Ryan McCallister, an adorable sidekick. So Martha’s  not claiming she’s out tilling the fields and planting orchards at five in the morning herself, even though she could.

 “You know I spend a lot of time thinking about dirt,” she says, in the opening of the first spot, as Ryan the Gardener interjects, “at three in the morning.”  They engage in playful banter, showing that Ryan knows her well.

It’s true. I’m glad she cops to being an insomniac. In the past she’s said she usually operates on about two to three hours sleep a night. But the spot is not about her Olympian energy.

 “You need dirt with the best nutrients,” she says as we see her dig her hands deep in the dirt, and then lets it run through her fingers, like a miner in a movie about the California Gold Rush.

 Even if typical viewers aren’t about to get dirt under their fingernails just now,  there’s something symbolic  about watching that act. And Martha does mention gold  as she adds, “This is as good as gold in any garden.”. 

But let’s get back to “dirt,” a plain and proud word, unlike “turf.” Digging into it is about the most grounded and elemental thing you can do. It also symbolizes getting down to work, something the 82-year-old empire builder still enjoys.

Dressed in a one-piece khaki jumpsuit  (like elevated prisonwear?)  she’s also accessorized --as I’ve never seen her before –in the coolest leather toolbelt, a holster for the garden.

Like that, she’s gone Garden Commando, the embodiment of a 21st century Mother Nature with a sense of humor about her habit.

The spot ends with a dirt (not dirty) joke: “If people only knew that it really is about the dirt.” Martha tells us, while the sidekick, who is down in the dirt, looks up at her and says, “You’re a dirt nerd,” and she responds, “Huge dirt nerd. I’m proud of it.”

At just 15-seconds, the second spot is about Miracle-Gro for Raised Beds, and it’s so natural and easy-going that she and Ryan seem to be laughing about staying on script.

In an article in Domino magazine, Martha talked about her new interest in raised bed gardening. “I couldn’t believe what was happening in this garden,” she says. “I vowed I would never plant any [other] way than raised beds for vegetables.”

Raised bed vegetable gardening is all the rage these days. At the end of the article, Martha shares her recommendations for other gardeners.

Number one on the list? Organic Miracle-Gro for Raised Beds.

She just can’t help herself. Everything she does becomes part of her coherent empire. Mother Martha is selling 24/7, but this gig is a natural. To borrow an old tagline, she’ s “stronger than dirt.”

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