Martha Stewart Fans Plan Time Square Ad

06 October 2003

While fallen US homemaking idol Martha Stewart prepares her defence against insider trading charges, at least one die-hard fan is turning to advertising to lend a hand.

Business consultant John Small, a Martha worshipper who founded the website, hopes to put up a giant poster in New York's Time Square protesting his heroine's innocence.

Small claims to have received $3,000 (€2,567; £1,799) from other Stewart idolaters to pay for the billboard, though this is still some way short of the $20,000 Clear Channel Entertainment is demanding to run the sign in Time Square.

If Small succeeds, visitors to the square will be greeted by a picture of Martha alongside the rather unwieldy caption: "If the stock sale was legit you must acquit".

The stock sale in question is Stewart's disposal of nearly 4,000 shares in biotech firm ImClone one day before its stock slumped on news the US Food and Drug Administration had rejected one of its cancer drugs. Prosecutors allege Stewart was tipped off by ImClone boss Sam Waksal, already in prison for trading shares before the FDA's decision became public.

Small, who has never actually met Stewart, said of the poster: "It will be a message to the world that decent people want to save Martha from the unthinkable possibility of an American icon going to prison."

Martha's number one fan promises to return all donations should charges against her be dropped.

• Separately, a US judge has thrown out a lawsuit filed by a shareholder in Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia.

MSLO investor Monica Beam sued Stewart – former ceo of the merchandising and media firm – and the companies' directors last year, arguing that the ImClone stock sales had damaged the company.

The judge ruled that the directors had no obligation to watch over Stewart's personal activities and blasted shareholders' lawyers for filing such suits "on the basis of precious little investigation beyond perusal of the morning newspapers."

Data sourced from: Times Online (UK); additional content by WARC staff