LUXURY IN THE ‘NET: Can luxury brands be successful on the Internet? Some high-end companies have been hesitant to move to the Web for fear of watering down their brands, but Rolex is proving a small investment on the Internet can lead to a high profile. In fact, after quietly expanding more recently, the brand has already received kudos from Forrester Research, which gave the site an almost perfect score (11 out of 12) for conveying its “brand image” effectively. The Forrester study, “Best and Worst of Brand-Building Web Sites, 2007,” included 20 Web sites, such as those of Chanel, Tiffany & Co., Gucci and Louis Vuitton.

“They [Rolex] had wondered if they belonged on the Internet and it turns out they are a perfect fit for it,” said Jerry Johnston, chairman of Critical Mass, an agency that creates marketing strategies, and builds and maintains Web sites for Fortune 500 clients, including Rolex. Chanel was the only other “luxury accessory” site to be recognized. According to Forrester, “Chanel’s site features its founder’s uncompromising nature, uniqueness and passion for perfection. Incredibly sharp images of timepieces, photographed with dramatic lighting, showcase product craftsmanship.” In other product categories, Lexus, Porsche and Panasonic were also awarded high marks for communicating and supporting their brand images. Johnston said Rolex is under the industry average in terms of money spent on the Internet but, next year, 8 to 10 percent of its marketing budget will be devoted to the Web.
— Amy Wicks

MORE MEN: Though Women’s Health has established an identity separate from its big brother, Men’s Health, the spin-off is borrowing one key MH element in its editorial. Beginning with the November water-themed issue, Women’s Health will include a Q&A with the cover guy from Men’s Health in a new column, “In Focus Hottie.” Why all of a sudden the brotherly love — or manly lust? “This particular page came from reader demand,” said Women’s Health editor in chief Tina Johnson. “They were looking for more men in the magazine.” This month’s “hottie” is LeBron James, dressed more dinner-date appropriate than his court-ready appearance in Men’s Health, where he sports a basketball jersey and bare, tattooed arms.

This story first appeared in the October 16, 2007 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

But cooperation goes only so far. While Men’s Health editor in chief David Zinczenko gave women a handbook for hard abs this spring with “The Abs Diet for Women,” Women’s Health will publish its own weight loss guide for gals this winter. “The Women’s Health Perfect Body Diet” will hit bookshelves in January, under the Rodale imprint. The diet and meal plan guide, along with a fitness program, will be written by weight loss coach and University of Connecticut doctoral candidate Cassandra Forsythe; Johnson will write the forward. Abs are certain to be prominent.
— Stephanie D. Smith

TRAVELING ON: Julie McGowan is stepping down as publisher of Travel + Leisure after just over a year in the position. She will also leave American Express Publishing after 12 years, which included a successful run as publisher of Food & Wine. Employees were informed of the move in a memo from company president Ed Kelly, who wrote: “While she conceded that it was a difficult decision, Julie has concluded that, for a number of personal and professional reasons, it is the right time to close this chapter and move on.” Ad pages at Travel + Leisure were down 16.4 percent year to date through September, and the magazine has been losing market dominance to main competitor Condé Nast Traveler — up 9.5 percent in the first nine months and celebrating its 20th anniversary. McGowan did not respond to requests for comment and the memo did not disclose her plans. A successor has yet to be named.
— Irin Carmon

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