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Martha Stewart brands are weathering bad press, says consultancy

NEW YORK — After the first week of trial testimony against Martha Stewart, the brand's strength has held up to the prosecution's case and intensified press coverage, according to Brand Keys Inc., a brand-loyalty research consultancy.

Brand Keys has been tracking the strength of the Martha Stewart brand since 2002 when it was one of the strongest in America, then indexing at 120 (baseline 100).

In early January 2004, based on a combination of 2002 accusations and bad press and the 2003 Federal indictment, Martha Stewart's brand's strength had fallen to 73, said the consultancy. Two weeks ago, on the basis of questions raised regarding Douglas Faneuil's testimony, the brand's strength moved up to 80, reported Brand Keys. Based on last week's courtroom activities, the Martha Stewart brand's strength has moved up again, to 82.

"It seems a small move, but it's a significant move for this brand," noted Robert Passikoff, president of Brand Keys Inc. "It's based on the customer values intrinsic to the Martha Stewart brand. Even small moves like these show that consumers are willing to give her the benefit of the doubt. At least based on the testimony so far."

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