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FIFTEEN AND THEN SOME: Marc Jacobs might not think he is the new Andy Warhol, but Interview sure thinks so.
With a white mop of hair, crisp button-down shirt and tie, the designer looks mighty Warholian on the cover of the magazine’s June-July double issue. White wigs and fake eyelashes aside, Jacobs does have some Warhol tendencies — the way he runs his business, his artlike advertising, stores that feel like clubs and collaborations with Stephen Sprouse, Takashi Murakami and Richard Prince — according to Interview’s Glenn O’Brien, who penned the cover story. “Andy was always talking about how new art is business art,” O’Brien said.
This story first appeared in the May 19, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Jacobs, who crossed paths with the Pop Art artist a few times, was floored to be the front man. But he is still not sold on the similarities. “I don’t think of myself that way,” he said. “Warhol is Warhol. He’s practically a god. I thought, ‘I’m going to get a lot of hell for this.'”
Truth be told, as a teenager, Jacobs read Interview religiously and was seduced by snapshots of Warhol’s Factory. But the designer was more intrigued by their lifestyles than by any one personality in particular. “That really introduced me to that Studio 54, interesting, New York jet-setty lifestyle,” Jacobs said.
He was such a devotee he often drew Richard Bernstein’s Interview covers. “There was something so compelling about them. I wasn’t trying to pass them off as my own,” Jacobs said.
As of Thursday, Jacobs will be seeing more than quadruple, when T-shirts and tote bags imprinted with his cover shot, as well as magazines, will be splashed in the window display of his Bleecker Street store. (By chance, “Giorgio Armani” is one of the cover lines.) Proceeds from the $35 T-shirts and $15 tote bags will benefit the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh.
Jacobs has lensman Todd Eberle to thank for this particular 15 minutes of fame. He is the one who casually said to O’Brien at a dinner party, “Gee, Marc Jacobs is the new Andy Warhol,” O’Brien said. “That kind of clicked in my head.”
There were countless clicks during the 12-hour Paris shoot with lensman Mikael Jansson, who has pictured Jacobs in a Rellik dress and Louis Vuitton platforms, among other looks. “Even though my scalp and eyelids were completely sore, it was all worth it,” Jacobs said. “It was just a ball.”
In honor of what would have been Warhol’s 80th birthday in August, the issue spotlights all things Andy, including photo booth shots of what “knowledgeable parties confirm” is his penis. There’s also a note written by Valerie Solanas nine months before she shot him, complaining about the “gross misspelling” of her name.
— Rosemary Feitelberg
FIRST-HALF FUMBLES: If publishers weren’t nervous about the economic downturn a few months ago, they should be petrified by now. According to Media Industry Newsletter, most fashion magazines reported significant declines in ad pages for the first six months of the year, as the broader recession has clearly begun to affect the magazine business. And, if June is any indication of things to come (with many fashion titles posting double-digit declines for their June issues), publishers are going to be hard-pressed to grow business over the course of 2008.
Overall, the luxury fashion magazines are still performing better than the mass market titles — as most will argue, the rich keep shopping no matter the state of the broader economy, and luxury brands are still doling out dollars to market to that fat-pocketed demographic. Among the high-end fashion titles, Elle and Harper’s Bazaar are reporting gains and Vogue and W are reporting relatively flat numbers. At Elle, which tacked on page gains for every issue in the period except June, ad pages jumped 6 percent through June, to 1,175. Harper’s Bazaar increased ad pages 9 percent, to 890. Vogue reported flat numbers, coming in at 1,328 ad pages. W reported a 2 percent drop in ad pages, to 878.
Meanwhile, the mass titles were challenged during the first half. Cosmopolitan posted a 15 percent decline in ad pages, to 791, a loss of 141 pages for the six-month period. Glamour’s ad pages dipped 8 percent, to 859, and Marie Claire reported a 7 percent decrease, to 600. In Style, which is prepping for a major redesign with its August issue, reported a 9 percent decline in ad pages, to 1,349. Shopping magazine Lucky reported a 13 percent decline in ad pages, to 718, and More, which lost editor Peggy Northrop to Reader’s Digest late last year, reported a 23 percent drop in ad pages, to 452. With such dismal results for the first half of the year, publishers are going to be under pressure to drum up business for those usually advertising-heavy September issues to make up their losses. But even matching last year’s results in this climate seems unlikely — several magazines trumpeted their best Septembers ever in 2007, before the full brunt of the economic downturn took hold.
— Stephanie D. Smith
CW GIVES AWAY HANDBAGS TO GET VIEWERS:“Gossip Girl” isn’t the only show to experience in dip in ratings since the writers’ strike ended, but it’s one of a handful of programs that are offering up extra incentives to attract real-time viewing, as opposed to TiVo, in a bid to satisfy advertisers and attract new ones. For the past four episodes and also during the season finale tonight, a contest has been running that began on New York’s CW11 and caught on in nine other CW stations across the country (all of which are owned by the Tribune Co.).
Each week, flashy signage has appeared at random during the show, inviting viewers to text one of the characters in order to win a free handbag from Botkier or Goldenbleu. Only those who text before the show ends are eligible. Last week’s contest resulted in approximately 7,000 texts, said a CW11 spokeswoman.
For Goldenbleu, which donated 40 bags in all 10 markets, participating was an easy decision. “Promotional opportunities on television rarely present themselves to accessory brands, which makes this exciting,” said Andrew Sather, chief executive officer of San Francisco-based Goldenbleu. “I can’t think of many instances where there’s this much of an ongoing tie-in. ‘Sex and the City’ pioneered this.”
A Goldenbleu spokeswoman noted that clutches cost anywhere from $380 to $500 and bags go for approximately $700 to $1,000. The exposure Goldenbleu received in all 10 markets, including spots that ran on the station prior to the shows, could be worth $500,000 in advertising or maybe more, added the CW11 spokeswoman. So even if every bag donated was $1,000, which wasn’t the case, Goldenbleu would only be out $40,000 compared with weeks of exposure to its target demographic. The CW11 spokeswoman isn’t sure if another promotion will start when the new season of “Gossip Girl,” begins although she noted that the station also just finished up a contest with “America’s Next Top Model.”
Last week, The Wall Street Journal reported that, despite all the buzz surrounding “Gossip Girl,” the CW is lagging in ratings and the network’s future is unstable. During May sweeps, ratings have been down 22, percent and the network is down approximately 28 percent of its target audience so far.
— Amy Wicks and Rachel Brown
HOPING FOR BETTER HEALTH:On the long road to rebranding itself as a content company rather than a magazine company, Time Inc. has tried many Internet strategies over the years — restricting magazine content online to subscribers and AOL users, experimenting with and then retreating from online-only brands and pushing many of its print writers to file and break news online. Health.com, relaunching today, represents a slightly different tack: spinning off the Web site of an existing magazine into a separate brand that is more a general health portal than a women’s lifestyle or fitness site. It’s been taken out of the hands of Southern Progress Corp.’s digital operation and Health magazine, and put under the leadership of Scott Mowbray, who has been editor of Popular Science, editorial director of Time4Media (sold to Bonnier Group in early 2007) and executive editor of Time Inc. under John Huey, to whom he still reports. “This has been a complete Web immersion,” Mowbray admitted. “I’m an old media guy.” He has an editorial team of about 10 and a “fleet of freelancers” who will produce stories and video on a range of health issues.
The site will have the same diagnostic data licensed by other health sites, but the hope is that adding service-oriented stories — for example, how to tell your kids and boss about a health issue — will be a key point of differentiation, and though some articles will be repackaged from Health magazine, the emphasis is on Web-only content. “This company has learned a lot about how you drive readers in print to the Web….We know a lot more about that than we used to,” said Mowbray. Such as? “The fundamental thing we’ve learned is that the information ecosystem on the Web is different. People come to you differently, and they’re less brand-conscious and more content-hungry.” He added, “Some of the habits of being in print proved to be dysfunctional on the Web, and other things we have found through our success — journalism, great writing, getting it first — are absolutely central to the Web.” John Brown, Health.com’s general manager, said $20 million worth of in-house ad inventory in consumer magazines and banners across Time Inc. sites would promote the new site.
— Irin Carmon
TINA’S ITALIAN IDYLL:Tina Brown says she’s been spending her days at InterActiveCorp.’s headquarters, hard at work at her news aggregator launch, but next month will bring a change of scene: Italy’s Lake Como and the legendary Villa d’Este. She’ll be writing a story for Departures, having been approached by editor Richard David Story after the Magazine Publishers of America gave her a lifetime achievement award. It’ll be her first time in the region, Brown told WWD, so she’s happy to “let Departures be my trip planner.”
“It looks like a most magnificently restful and darling place to spend 10 days in June,” she said, adding that it would also be a celebration of her husband’s birthday, among other milestones. Would that be his 80th, per Wikipedia? “That’s his little secret,” she said. Brown was also tight-lipped on her newest venture, though she did say that Michael Kinsley “is going to be writing and contributing when the spirit moves him.”