from Shop Talk:

Martha Stewart decorates your home… and your pets

Here is a post from our colleague Shradhha Sharma in Bangalore:

Martha Stewart loves youmarthar pet.

The home decorating expert and tastemaker (Macy's good, Home Depot good, Kmart not so good) wants you to buy pet clothing, collars, leashes, bedding, grooming supplies, toys and more, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia said on Tuesday. Pet products retailer PetSmart Inc will sell the accessories starting in the spring of 2010.

Age Group Ltd, which makes licensed products for brands such as Disney, Baby Phat, Hello Kitty and Peanuts, will design the goods.

The announcement adds pet stores to the roster of retailers where you can see Martha's name emblazoned on various products. As we mentioned above, Macy's and Home Depot are two others. One place where you WON'T see her name anymore after next January is Kmart, the discount retailer. The company and Kmart are ending their relationship, something that's been known for months. Stewart's latest comment on that relationship came last Friday when she wished them well and said it would be wrong to interpret earlier remarks she made about Kmart as being inconsistent with her good feelings.

Those remarks, which she uttered on CNBC in September, were more in the spirit of "doberman pinscher" than "cute little kitten," but no matter -- PetSmart no doubt will sport a variety of tasteful Stewart products to suit a variety of temperaments and breeds.

(Photo: Reuters)

Martha Stewart KA-Bars Kmart

After seeing Martha Stewart on CNBC this morning, I was surprised to find that she doesn’t sell a Martha Stewart-branded KA-Bar knife because she seems like she knows how to use one.

Stewart appeared on TV to talk about the company’s new merchandising agreement with Home Depot. The hardware big-box retailer will offer a line of products sold under the Martha Stewart brand. Before they got too far into the interview, they talked about a similar program with discount retailer Kmart that ends in January 2010 — the same time that the Home Depot deal begins.

Here is an excerpt:

The new [Kmart] ownership really has let our line deteriorate. It’s been kind of ripped off, I would say, and really diminished, and the quality is really not what I am proud of. Have you been into a Kmart lately? it’s not the nicest place to shop. …

Sirius unveils iPhone App: reviews not so good (updated)

Sirius XM Radio has launched its long-awaited App for the iPhone to mixed reviews. That’s not surprising, really, since the legion of Sirius subscribers has never been sheepish about the pay radio service.

Many users like it, so they can get unique programming in a slick iPhone App. Now they can take Martha Stewart Radio, Road Dog Trucking and the Praise Channel with them anywhere. But you can’t listen to exclusive stuff like Howard Stern’s programming, or Major League Baseball games or the Nascar channel. Ouch.

It’s true that only a handful of channels are excluded (for rights reasons) versus the 120 channels one can listen to. But many Sirius XM subscribers are drawn to the service primarily for Stern, Baseball and the NFL, and they are not pleased. Of 421 user reviews on the iTunes App Store, 261 rate it 1 (out-of-5) stars, and its average is 2 stars. By contrast, online radio app Pandora scores an average 3.5 stars (from a much larger survey sample).

Who really is the boss at Martha Stewart?

We’ve recently been wondering who the real boss is at Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. You know, the supreme chief, the head honcho, the generalissimo.  At one point we noticed the management team consisted of two co-chief executives, an executive chairman as well as a chief financial officer. All this with Martha herself hovering in the background.

Well we won’t have to wonder anymore. Or maybe we will.

It looks like the company’s top tier is slimming down with co-CEO Wenda Harris Millard stepping down to join Media Link, an advisory firm, less than a year after the ex-Yahoo exec was promoted to (co-) run the lifestyle brand.

Millard’s co-CEO Robin Marino will no longer hold that title but will continue to oversee the company’s merchandising business — and perhaps as consolation for her loss of title the company has recommended her for a seat on its board.

More bad news in advertising outlook

If you were looking for any positive signs from the advertising industry, perhaps as vendors try to drum up business amid the rough economy, forget it. Times are tough there too.

On Tuesday, France’s Publicis said it expects to see weakness in mature markets and traditional sectors and a “marked slowdown” in the ad industry next year.

And Interpublic Chief Executive Michael Roth said clients’ spending plans were under pressure from the financial crisis.

Sumner Redstone: World could end tomorrow!

Step off — CBS and Viacom are not for sale!

That comes courtesy of Sumner Redstone, who should know since he holds a controlling stake in both of the media companies. Here’s what he told the Wall Street Journal in an interview:

Asked whether he would consider selling one of the companies, Mr. Redstone said: “Not a chance. I will not sell Viacom and I will not sell CBS. They’re two great companies.” He added: “We have no intention to sell any more stock and I’m decisive about that.”

Redstone’s interview with the Journal should help clear the air on much recent speculation about the future of Viacom and CBS — both suffering badly in the stock market. In the last month, shares of Viacom have dropped about 30 percent, while CBS shares have fallen a staggering 45 percent.

Emeril tries fusion cuisine with Martha, Rupert

emerilRupert Murdoch’s children have the perfect gift to give to Dad come Father’s Day next year: a book on indoor and outdoor grilling by celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse that will come out on May 12, 2009. It’s the first entry in a 10-book project that Lagasse — now a member of the Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia franchise — prepared for HarperStudio, an imprint of book publisher and News Corp subsidiary HarperCollins.

HarperStudio will promote the book and his other titles written for HarperCollins with video, photography and blogs at its own website, as well as, while Martha Stewart Living will market the books on its website and in its magazines, television and radio shows.

Among the recipes, according to the press release: Emeril’s Delmonico Bone-in Rib Steaks, Northern Italian Style Chicken Under a Brick, Grilled Pork Chops with Mixed Herb Chimichurri and Grilled Banana Splits.

Google’s investment in AOL heading down

toilet.jpgFive percent of AOL may not be what it used to be.

Many thought that was the case, but now even Google says so, conceding in a filing that its stake in Time Warner Inc’s AOL unit may be worth less than the $1 billion the Web company paid for it in 2006. “We believe our investment in AOL may be impaired,” Google said in its quarterly financial filing.

Here’s what people are saying about it.

Silicon Alley Insider:

Of course, we knew that already. The highest estimates of AOL’s value these days usually top out at around $10 billion ($15 billion if Microsoft goes into a testosterone-fueled bidding-war rage). This would put the value of Google’s 5% stake at, say, $500 million to $750 million.

What’s most interesting about Google’s AOL note, however, is that the company believes the impairment may be temporary (expressed below as not believing the impairment is other than temporary). This is a polite way of saying that Google is dreaming that AOL might actually recoup some of its vaporized value someday.

At long last, Sirius and XM complete their deal

xmsr.jpgHear that? It’s the sound of sighs. Sirius Satellite Radio has finally completed the purchase of rival XM Satellite Radio.

“The completion comes after a marathon period of government scrutiny that ended late last week when the U.S. Federal Communications Commission approved the deal, which was first announced 17 months ago,” Reuters reports.

Now that the deal is done, it’ll be interesting to see whether it was worth the wait. Neither company has posted a profit on its own, and, in fact, they have posted huge losses along the way as they’ve paid to build up subscribers.

Playing nice at Martha Stewart

susan-lyne.jpgSusan Lyne is leaving Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, but the shakeup at the lifestyle brand probably isn’t over yet. 

Lyne steered the company through some rough waters as chief executive (let’s not forget she ran things as Martha Stewart trudged off to prison) and now she’ll be replaced by Wenda Harris Millard and Robin Marino. That’s right, Millard and Marino. Co-CEO’s. Two at the top. Power sharing.

How often does that work? ”They are fairly rare and they typically don’t work out to be that great,” said Noble Financial research director Michael Kupinski.