How Much Does It Cost To Get Martha Stewart To Say Whatever You Want?

Here’s a heck of a deal: For only $250,000, Martha Stewart will personally shill your product on her show. She even promises to “work in an advertiser’s talking points.” If you don’t have that much dough, you can grab a “one-time in-show oral mention with product close-up” for only $100,000.

In order to convince herself she’s not really a whore, Martha finds cute ways to rationalize endorsing a product. For example, Martha likes the yellow sponges with green scrubby back from Scotch Brite (Hey, who doesn’t?), so she said nice things about that product before demonstrating the toilet scrubber Scotch Brite paid her to use on the show. Why not just demonstrate the toilet scrubber? “I could see it being used elsewhere, and it works very well,” says Stewart, “but it was disposable, and it’s kind of wasteful.”

Does this sort of thing bother you as consumers, or is Miss Martha just paying the bills? —MEGHANN MARCO

Queen Of The Product Pitch [BusinessWeek via Freakonomics Blog]


Edit Your Comment

  1. matukonyc says:

    It doesn’t bother me at all — it’s commercial television. I’ve watched “The Price is Right” for thirty years, even though the show is an hour-long compendium of advertising!

    Seriously, Martha Stewart is not a doctor, or a journalist, a lawyer, or anyone with any credentials to protect by avoiding conflicts of interest or favoritism.

  2. Kornkob says:

    I’ve never watched her so I have to speak in generalities.

    It only upsets me when this short of shilling happens if the person doing the ads is positioning themselves as a ‘reviewer’ or an expert who searched out the ‘best’ products for a particular job. It’s not really a ‘review’ of a product if someone is paying you to pony it up on your show. Nor are you really looking for the ‘best’ products for a job if any monkey with a few grand can get you to pimp their crap.

  3. dbeahn says:

    It doesn’t bother me to think of Martha as a whore. Ever since she started hawking her line of cheap, low quality chinese crap at K-mart I’ve ignored her.

  4. Toof_75_75 says:

    This really bother me either…as Kornkob said though, as long as she doesn’t take the position of, “I tested 25 toilet sponges and this made my bowl the brightest!” Unless of course she tried that :-p

    I guess I can’t be mad at her…if someone gave me 250k, I’d work in 2 selling points…Hear that corporate America? I’m for sale! :-)

  5. harumph says:

    the person it should bother most is martha herself. she knows her advice is no longer this homespun d.i.y. crap she built herself on. it only bothers me in a generalized way in that commerce is indistinguishable from everyday life and we are totally desensitized to the pervasiveness of advertising.

  6. quantum-shaman says:

    Good for Martha! She does have an empire to rebuild. I don’t watch her and I most likely wouldn’t buy anything she’ll be modeling, but the low 6 figures to shill?… that’s probably very reasonable in advertising dollar terms.

  7. Toof_75_75 says:

    *Didn’t* bother me either Oops!

  8. bluemeep says:

    It’s hardly a new form of advertising. We’re just a little unused to seeing it nowadays, I think. Anyone recall the Golden Days of television where entire programming blocks were brought to you by products that were then used in segments of the show?

    For the finest cornbread you can bake,
    Get Martha White self-rising meal
    The one all purpose meal
    Martha White self-rising meal
    For goodness’ sake

  9. harumph says:

    the problem is the lack of disclosure, it is a murky line when she seems to be giving personal advice on what she prefers when it is just a sponsor handing out a check. if it will hurt anyone it will hurt martha if the perception takes hold that she is being less than impatial about her recommendations.

  10. All these comments, and not one of them’s used the word “oral”.

    C’mon, people – do I have to draw you a picture?

  11. James Cooper - Chief Geek at TJSL says:

    Oh, please, her whole show is an advertisement. If you think its anything other than that, well…

  12. QuirkyRachel says:

    It kind of bothers me, but then Martha Stewart is a company that includes references to lots and lots of brand names (including the show, the web site, the magazine…)

    Know what really bugs me that’s similar? The morning news programs selling things. They’re news programs, but they seem to have more and more segments devoted to things like “the best new products to use on your summer hair” and “best new products for busy moms”, etc. It feels more like watching a magazine on TV, complete with loads of bought in-program ads, instead of a news program.

  13. etinterrapax says:

    I’m conflicted. It’d be nice to see an untinctured opinion from time to time. It seems everyone’s paid to shill something these days. On the other hand, given equal inducement, I might do the same. The difference is that I actually do clean toilets, and I seriously doubt she’s touched one in her own private life in decades. There’s some heavy irony in that.

  14. Yozzie says:

    “Oral mention with product close-up” – that’s really quite erotic for Martha…

  15. Kornkob says:

    Prison life changes a person.

  16. FLConsumer says:

    I do wish we had disclosures given in popular media like we often see with medical journals. In general, we used to have a term for someone who’d sell themselves — whore. I don’t have a problem with people being whores, I certainly have taken on jobs I normally wouldn’t do but the money was too great to pass up, BUT, I do think disclosure is essential. Even on that job, I told the client I DIDN’T really want to work for them and in that case, they actually paid me even more!

  17. mac-phisto says:

    hey, let’s all chip in a few bucks & get her to market our “martha’s finest prison shiv”. i’d like to see her figure out that product placement.

  18. Anonymous says:

    This doesn’t surprise me at all… and Martha’s not the only one that does it.

    Does anyone actually believe that Oprah (may she burn) pays for the crap she “gives” to her audience from time to time?

    Come on, now.

  19. bluemeep says:

    @harumph: I’ve always assumed that any time I see a named product on a TV show that it’s there because someone handed over a fully stuffed Dollar Sign Bagâ„¢. Even more-so when it’s mentioned by name. I guess maybe some folks don’t?

  20. notacommunist says:

    Hmmm. I hope this does not come up in the future:

    This is the M-2 flamethrower. It really does a great job of clearing out al qaeda from foxholes. It’s a good thing.

  21. We should get together enough money to have her wear a consumerist shirt! I’ll pitch in.

  22. notallcompaniesarebad says:

    I think this is part of the bargain we’ve implicitly made with our DVR use. I skip the commercials but have to deal with 15 closeups of a dell laptop, GM truck or Starbucks coffee an hour. Such is life.

  23. Jim C. says:

    “In order to convince herself she’s not really a whore”

    Oh get off it. So you hate Martha Stewart. Try to stay to relevant points and keep the over-the-top namecalling to yourself. You mostly make yourself look bad, not Stewart.

  24. MarahMarie says:

    I don’t know why, but I like Martha, even though she keeps making questionable moves, like this one. I think she doesn’t know any better. Everyone sees her polished exterior and know-how but underneath that carefully cultivated surface, I think she’s at loose ends most of the time trying to figure out how to make money ethically. I’m not trying to exonerate her. I’m only saying I think she blunders. A lot.

  25. edwardoneill says:

    Martha Stewart? Motivated by M-O-N-E-Y?

    This is blowing my mind.