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BY REQUEST: The media rumor making the rounds is that Michelle Williams was slated to appear on the April cover of Elle. In light of the death of Heath Ledger, with whom she had a daughter, Williams requested the cover be pulled — and it was. She has been replaced by Natalie Portman.
RADAR’S FASHION WORLD: Who’s more influential in today’s fashion world: Vogue or Us Weekly? Well, it depends on who’s answering. Radar — you remember, that monthly magazine that has sometimes been unfavorably compared to Spy — has just come out with its Fashion Influence List and, not surprisingly, goes the celeb tabloid route. It ranks “The Hills” star Lauren Conrad as the industry’s top trendsetter, puts celebrity stylist Rachel Zoe at number seven and Vogue editor in chief Anna Wintour at 17th. While some might view Radar’s fashion-themed issue as a way to create buzz in advance of New York Fashion Week (it didn’t gain that much advertising — the issue is a slim 90 pages), the title’s editor, Maer Roshan insisted the list is completely valid. “It’d be undeniable that today’s mass market has changed the balance of power in the fashion community,” said Roshan. “A picture in Us Weekly of an outfit on a celebrity will gain them much more traction than a folio in Vogue, and that’s saying a lot. It’s a new celebrity culture that has affected even high fashion, and fashion has had to adjust to it.” So we guess Karl Lagerfeld, Marc Jacobs and Ralph Lauren will next be getting their inspirations from the tiny tube.
Meanwhile, Radar has tapped two new artists to help tweak its look again — Pentagram’s Luke Hayman, who redesigned Time last year and helped redesign New York with editor in chief Adam Moss (an effort that won him a 2006 National Magazine Award for excellence in magazine design from the American Society of Magazine Editors), and former New York art director Kate Elazegui. Radar’s fresh look will be unveiled this spring. — Stephanie D. Smith
MORE T AT THE TIMES: The New York Times’ public editor might not be a fan of its fashion and lifestyle supplement, T, but the newspaper’s advertising executives clearly love it. The New York Times Co.’s president and chief executive officer, Janet Robinson, revealed Thursday that the newspaper is considering more spin-offs ahead. The company, Robinson said, will continue to develop the “T franchise.”
No wonder, since luxury continues to be a driver of ad sales, accounting for 10 to 11 percent of group revenues last year. Luxury ads are projected to grow further this year, thanks to T and, now, the International Herald Tribune. The company reported that the first edition of T in the IHT in December was a success and eight more issues will be published this year.
Meanwhile, could 2008 be the year The New York Times Co. sells the Boston Globe? It’s purely speculative, of course, but the question was raised by an analyst during Thursday’s fourth-quarter and full-year earnings conference call. Robinson said the company doesn’t comment on acquisitions and divestitures, but is constantly reviewing its portfolio. She added that new product development in online and print is being explored for the Globe this year.
As for the numbers, ad revenue in the News Media Group, which includes the Times, dropped 10.5 percent in the fourth quarter. Internet revenues for the year were 10.3 percent of total revenues, compared with 8.3 percent the prior year. In the fourth quarter, staff reduction costs were much higher, at $17.8 million, compared with $8.5 million during the same period in 2006. This year the company intends to save $130 million through cost cuts. Details were not provided.
As for the overall advertising environment for 2008, president and general manager of The New York Times Scott Heekin-Canedy said advertisers have built in “economic uncertainty” into their ad spending but added, in a “sweeping generalization,” that no advertisers have factored a recession into their spending plans. He also reported that January was on par with December 2007, but he does not expect the ad spending “hesitance” that took place during the first few weeks of 2008 to continue. — Amy Wicks
RUPERT’S NEW TOY: Rupert Murdoch’s British newspaper business News International has purchased its first standalone e-commerce site, BrandAlley.co.uk. The Web site is a subsidiary of Brandalley.com, a fashion site in France. BrandAlley.com provides member-only sales of branded retail goods. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, however Brandalley chief executive officer Sven Lung said he is targeting sales of approximately 100 million pounds, or about $200 million. — A.W.
CLARIFICATION: A Memo Pad item in WWD Tuesday regarding Dana Thomas, author of “Deluxe: How Luxury Lost Its Luster,” and her appointment as European editor of Portfolio, incorrectly stated where Thomas will next tour for her book. She will visit Melbourne, Australia; New Zealand, and Hong Kong. In addition, the nature of Yves Carcelle of LVMH’s displeasure with the book was unclear in the item. Carcelle, president of LVMH’s fashion and leather goods division, was upset about the portrayal of LVMH overall, and not of its chief, Bernard Arnault. Thomas contends she was misquoted in discussing Carcelle’s criticisms with WWD, saying, “I didn’t say it [Louis Vuitton] was like McDonald’s as a product, but like McDonald’s in that your logo [not label, as quoted in WWD] is one of the most recognizable in the world.” Finally, some industry executives criticized “Deluxe” at the time of its publication because of Thomas’ premise that the quality of luxury goods has declined as more products have been created. Tuesday’s Memo Pad item may have implied their criticisms focused on factual inaccuracies and, as far as WWD is aware, the book contains none.