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LET IT SNOW: On Nov. 19, Gucci’s Frida Giannini and Rihanna are brightening New York. As part of Gucci’s ongoing partnership with UNICEF, the two will light the UNICEF snowflake on Fifth Avenue at 57th Street. The festivities, at Grand Army Plaza, will feature a special performance by Ne-Yo, followed by a party at the Gucci flagship that Giannini and Rihanna are hosting to fete the Tattoo Heart Collection and the 2008 campaign, featuring Rihanna. After the party, Giannini will head over to the Oak Room for a small VIP dinner for the singer, marking the first event there after the Plaza’s renovation. Gucci has tapped Timbaland to spin the tunes after dinner. — Marc Karimzadeh
This story first appeared in the November 12, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
CONDE NAST CUTS: Condé Nast Publication Inc.’s Internet division, home to destination sites Concierge.com, Epicurious.com and Style.com, on Tuesday laid off staffers across all its functions, including editorial, marketing and sales, production and technology. The cuts come as Condé Nast is said to be reducing head counts across the company by 5 percent, either by attrition or other measures. A CondéNet spokeswoman released a statement that said: “Visibility for 2009 is very limited and therefore we are adjusting all costs to prepare for slower revenue growth. The adjustments are across the board and include staff restructuring and some reduction. Despite the current environment, CondéNet will end the year slightly up over 2007. These moves will put the company in a stronger position to handle a challenging year ahead and for the business to benefit when the economy and the ad market start to rebound.” CondéNet did not release specific names or the number of positions affected, but sources close to the company describe the figure as in the dozens. CondéNet is the latest company property hit by the downturn in the economy, following last week’s reduction in the frequencies of Men’s Vogue and Portfolio. Also recently departing the company was corporate creative director Gary Van Dis, who most recently was in charge of Condé Nast’s “Point of Passion” ad campaign. — Stephanie D. Smith
FULL COURT PRESS: “I give a lot of credit to [John] McCain personally for helping [Barack] Obama win,” said Lesley Stahl, who didn’t cover the presidential campaign directly this time around, but was on hand for a panel Monday night at the Rainbow Room that discussed “The Media and the Presidency.” Stahl joined former colleague Dan Rather, Jacob Weisberg of The Slate Group, Joe Scarborough of MSNBC, The Week’s Bob Shrum and Ed Rollins, a Republican political consultant who worked on Mike Huckabee’s failed run for the White House.
There was plenty of blame to go around and Scarborough pointed to the McCain campaign, which he said had no strategy and instead, “a lot of day traders.…I’ve never seen a campaign as incompetent as McCain’s.” However, he did defend Sarah Palin, adding she “worked” until the economic meltdown. Hearing comments to the contrary in the crowd, he retorted: “I know we’re in the heart of Palin country here.” Scarborough’s commentary had moderator Sir Harold Evans ask the crowd, “Was Sarah Palin screwed by comedy? Do you feel sorry for her?” “No, I do not,” Stahl quickly retorted. Rather, who said the election looked even following the Republican convention, said the press loves the “new” and has a bias for the story — and during this campaign, Obama was the best story. “It didn’t have to do with Democrat or Republican,” added Scarborough, who said Hillary Clinton certainly had her fair share of negative coverage, with some calling her racist. “Barack Obama was a progressive idea,” he said. Weisberg said the president-elect “captured our imagination.” Rollins told the crowd that McCain never reached out to Huckabee about the vice presidency (he was the runner-up during the Republican primaries), adding Huckabee or Mitt Romney would have been better picks for McCain. The event was hosted by The Week magazine. — Amy Wicks
BOOKS BOOST RODALE: Men’s Health had an overall revenue increase of 10.7 percent during the third quarter, thanks to strong sales from editor in chief David Zinczenko and associate editor Matt Goulding’s book, “Eat This, Not That!” Excluding the book, the magazine saw ad revenues fall 11 percent and pages drop 14.8 percent compared with the same period a year ago. Women’s Health once again reported a dramatic increase in revenue, up 38 percent, with ad revenue up 28 percent even though ad pages were down 6 percent. The title has had four rate base increases since it launched in October 2005, and another is planned in January.
Another Rodale title, Best Life, increased revenues by 30.4 percent, while ad revenue was up 2.4 percent and pages were down 12 percent. The Runner’s World Media Group recorded a 10 percent jump in revenue, although Runner’s World had a 4.8 percent drop in ad revenue and 9.9 percent fall in pages. Overall, Rodale’s print ad revenue was down 1.7 percent during the quarter and total revenue decreased 5 percent. Rodale, a privately held company, only reports percentages. — A.W.
ACROSS THE POND: WSJ.’s executive style director, Sasha Wilkins, has left the magazine. A spokesman confirmed her departure, and said a replacement has not been found. Prior to joining WSJ., Wilkins was based in London. Wilkins was the launch editor of O: Magazine, The Observer U.K.’s glossy fashion title. She also wrote out of New York for British publications including Harper’s Bazaar, Elle, The Sunday Times, Grazia, vogue.com and online creative network The Hospital. — S.D.S.