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AREN’T THE ADS WHAT THE SUPER BOWL IS ABOUT ANYWAY?: Victoria’s Secret is back at the Super Bowl after a nine-year hiatus. The sexy lingerie brand will run a 30-second ad featuring model Adriana Lima. “She’s got those spectacular eyes,” said Ed Razek, chief marketing officer and president of brand and creative services at Limited Brands, which owns VS. Razek noted the ad was created internally and that Lima was in the VS commercial with Bob Dylan four years ago (disoriented Dylan fans are still trying to recover from that one).
As far as the upcoming spot, “It’s about the classic struggle between men and women,” said Jill Beraud, executive vice president and chief marketing officer for VS. “It speaks to the heart of the matter in an eloquent way. But both men and women will get a kick out of it. It’s funny — kind of like a wink — and more about the emotion of the brand, not item specific.”
Limited Brands will pay about $2.7 million to run the ad, which will only appear once during the game, late in the third quarter or early in the fourth quarter. Afterward, it will be able to be viewed on the VS Web site.
VS last ran a spot on the game in 1999 to dramatize a live Webcast of a fashion show, thereby promoting the Web site, which launched in 1998. The result — 1.2 million people took their eyes off the Super Bowl and hit the Web after the commercial ran in the first quarter. The next year, VS moved the fashion show from before Valentine’s Day to before Christmas, so “there wasn’t the same raison d’être to run a Super Bowl ad,” Razek said. However, with the Super Bowl set for Feb. 3, just 11 days before Valentine’s Day, VS sees renewed opportunity for prime time.
“Our ad will be the first in the commercial break,” Beraud said. “The most important thing is to get that ‘A’ position.” — David Moin
COVER BOY: Robert Polet appears on the cover of Fortune’s Europe edition (and inside the American one) wearing a Gucci baseball jacket and beaming like he just hit a home run. No wonder. The Gucci Group president and chief executive was named Europe’s Businessman of the Year by the magazine in its Jan. 21 issue and is featured in an eight-page spread inside, pictured with the luxury group’s brand managers and at home in London cooking up some broccoli. The article, by Peter Gumbel, recounts how the former Unilever honcho overcame ridicule as an ice-cream salesman to lead Gucci Group through three years of booming sales and profit growth. It portrays Polet as a risk taker and rule breaker who once ducked out of a big Gucci Group meeting to attend his daughter’s birthday party. During his tenure at Unilever, he disobeyed his then boss and set up a secret production line to make liquid margarine, a product that turned out to be a hit. “Asking for forgiveness,” he explained, “is better than asking for permission.” — Miles Socha
REMNICK SEES THE FUTURE: What’s on David Remnick’s mind these days? In a video interview with Big Think, a Web start-up that marries high-profile interviews with social networking, The New Yorker editor in chief reflects on his childhood, his big breaks at The Washington Post and in Russia, and discusses the future of The New Yorker and of journalism in general. But he also admits he worries about whether The New Yorker is funny enough.
He recalls a lunch with 87-year-old New Yorker legend Roger Angell: “I said, ‘You know, Roger, I’ve been doing this for a couple of years, and it’s easier for me to get somebody to go sleep on the ground in Sudan and dodge bullets in Afghanistan than it is to get something authentically funny.’ And he nodded and he said, ‘Well, that’s very interesting, because you are now the fifth editor of The New Yorker to tell me this, beginning with Harold Ross.'”
Remnick also spoke at length about the survival of newspapers. “I think newspapers are going to be with us in one form or another. They may just be completely on a screen. And if they’re not, I’m conservative enough to think that’s a gigantic tragedy….And all that said, I couldn’t care less if it’s no longer on paper. I mean, I have an atavistic affection for that, but even I at 49 see this as semiludicrous.”
But he contrasted his own predicament with that of newspaper editors, speculating: “The best technology so far for reading a 14,000-word piece might be that thing you roll up, shove into your bag and take with you on the train that you can’t with the Web. I don’t see many people reading long New Yorker pieces on a PDA in the subway, or on commuter trains or airplanes.” He added, “Now if you told me in 50 years The New Yorker won’t be on paper, I wouldn’t be shocked. I’d be sad, maybe. I don’t think that’s [going to be] the case but, again, prediction is the lowest form of human endeavor.”
Still, The New Yorker is forging ahead with its digital strategy, albeit with great deliberateness. Remnick was philosophical about its prospects vis-à-vis the mission of the magazine itself, saying, “I don’t think that just because we have a couple of little videos on our Web site, that’s gonna be the salvation of The New Yorker. It’s nice. It might be fun, but…I think there will always be readers.” The full interview is at BigThink.com. — Irin Carmon