Wednesday, January 25, 2012

WSJ Wednesdays

I am going to have two editions of this feature this week. I saw two items of particular interest in yesterday's Wall Street Journal, but they are on such different topics I can't blend them into one post, and I feel both of them are worth talking about.

In the header of the Marketplace section, a small photo of celebrity homemaker Martha Stewart was posted, along with the headline, "Macy's Takes Martha to Court." The story appears on page B3. The article by Chad Bray and Dana Mattioli stated that Macy's Inc. sued Martha Stewart's Living Omnimedia Inc. "to block a new licensing agreement with rival J.C. Penney Co." In short, Macy's has carried a line of Martha Stewart's home and kitchen products since 2007 and recently renewed its contract for another five years. Macy's believes the agreement between J. C. Penney Co and Martha Stewart Living (MSL) breaches the contract they signed with MSL because the right to sell these products exclusively was clearly outlined.

As I read the article, it reminded me of the recent backlash Paula Deen has endured since her diabetes announcement. According to this Fox News article, her publicist of six years quit over the celebrity chef's plans to promote the drug Victoza. Deen has been criticized for keeping her condition secret for the past three years while dishing up foods filled with sugar and fat.

These situations definitely give the average person reason to pause. If MSL gave exclusive rights to Macy's to sell their products, why did they work out an agreement with their rival? Why did Deen keep her condition secret from the people who have made her a household name? It's easy to say it was mere greed. I don't know that it's that simple. Since in the WSJ article, J.C. Penny Co. president, Lisa Gersh, states their line would be "completely different" from what Macy's carries, was there an intentional decision to breach the contract? Did people who watched Paula Deen and who made her recipes not realize the foods laden with fat and sugar were unhealthy? Why is a celebrity's medical history anyone else's business but her own? That she is now using her condition to promote a product she helps to manage it, and will be making changes to her show because of it, only means that viewers can stop watching if they don't like it. But they were free to do that all along.

What do you think about these recent discoveries? Do they change your buying habits? Will you be turning off the TV when Martha Stewart or Paula Deen comes on? I think it will be interesting to see how both of these situations turn out.

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