Martha Stewart Extends Brand To Costco, Will Launch Marthapedia

Martha Stewart's food line at Costco will kick off with a smoked ham in time for Thanksgiving, while her brand will soon extend to a Wikipedia-like function, to be known as "Marthapedia."

Stewart said Thursday the ham would be available at the retailer for the holidays, while a "wonderful array" of products such as prepared dinners are coming next year.

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Costco's hometown paper, previously reported that Stewart's offerings would simultaneously carry Costco's in-house "Kirkland Signature" label.

While the deal gives Stewart yet another outlet to sell products, and the retailer is growing and boasts a high percentage of upscale shoppers, Costco is a curious choice because it does so little advertising--only $138,000 for the first six months of this year, according to TNS Media Intelligence. That pales in comparison to the millions Macy's is spending this fall for the launch of a Stewart line of homewares with flashy TV ads.



"Marthapedia" will essentially serve as an online handbook to provide user-friendly info on topics such as home and garden, family, food and others. The entries will initially be developed by Stewart's editors, but like Wikipedia, consumers will be able to link in and suggest their own recipes or gardening tips. However, unlike Wikipedia, where consumers can freely update the content, the editors will serve as gatekeepers, determining which consumer-generated info should be added.

Stewart said Marthapedia would be launched soon, but declined to provide more details.

Stewart, the namesake behind Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia (MSLO), a company that suffered as she dealt with well-publicized legal issues in recent years, spoke at an Advertising Week event in New York.

Stewart also said that while the company has been slow to move abroad, it's poised to begin aggressive international expansion beyond the availability of her eponymous TV show in 44 countries. Options could include MSLO's magazine fleet. "I think we're a little tardy, but (that's) because of three years of legal problems," she said.

MSLO's shares are trading at near $12, well below their approximate $23-per-share 52-week high.

"I think she has upgraded her image," Bob Nelson, a Costco vice president, told the Seattle paper in May. "I understand the background, but my understanding is she is still pretty popular and we plan to develop some cool items and leverage her brand and our brand."

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