ANOTHER WORLD: Diesel is continuing its surrealistic direction in its ads for spring, which will break in February magazines, including GQ, Details, Flaunt and Nylon, as well as outdoors in major cities like New York and L.A. Using black-and-white images shot by John Scarisbrick, the ads center on darkly enigmatic scenes such as an elderly foot fetishist worshipping model Jon Kortajarena’s Diesel high-top sneakers or a ramshackle apartment filled with cats. Rock progeny Alexandra Richards makes a cameo in one of the ads, which were photographed at 1896 Studios in Brooklyn.

“There are no messages, themes or commentary to understand,” explained Diesel creative director Wilbert Das of the hipster take on David Lynch. “Our objective is to intrigue and provoke a thought.” As for fall, Das worked with Stockholm-based ad agency FarFar on the new campaign.

This story first appeared in the December 12, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

The cinematic quality of the ads is taken further on the Diesel Web site, where the scenes are turned into short films. Diesel declined to divulge the ad spend for the campaign, but the Molvena, Italy-based company typically budgets 5 percent of sales for marketing annually, and that has not changed, according to a spokesperson. From January to September of this year, Diesel spent $5.8 million on U.S. advertising, according to TNS Media Intelligence

— David Lipke

SPRINGING BACK: The International Herald Tribune, which postponed its annual luxury conference in the wake of last month’s terror attacks in Mumbai, has now scheduled the gathering for March 25-26 at the Imperial Hotel in New Delhi. The conference, based on sustainable luxury and hosted by fashion editor Suzy Menkes, was to have taken place Dec. 3 and 4 at the same venue. The speaker roster is still largely intact, according to the Paris-based paper. Confirmed speakers include François-Henri Pinault, chairman and chief executive officer of PPR, and designer Stella McCartney. Publisher Stephen Dunbar-Johnson assured security will be at a maximum.

— Natasha Montrose

THE MASTHEADS CONTINUE TO SHRINK: Condé Nast managers have been forced to reevaluate their head counts this fall, as each department has been asked to trim 5 percent of its staff, either by attrition or other means. As 2008 winds down, some top employees at the bigger titles have exited, but not all due to the 5 percent mandatory reductions. At Vanity Fair, three staffers were let go Tuesday; two in the photo and research department, according to two sources. Senior articles editor Peter Newcomb was also let go but will continue as a contributing editor. Newcomb was one of the last editors hired at the title two and a half years ago, and oversaw the magazine’s annual New Establishment list. “It’s not like I’m out of a job; it’s just an extrapolation of my old job,” he said. Newcomb joined Vanity Fair after working for 20 years at Forbes.

At Vogue, Lisa Jordan Helms was let go last week. Helms was hired in February as associate publisher/advertiser when Tom Florio was elevated to a group publisher role overseeing four Vogue properties — Vogue, Vogue Living, Men’s Vogue and Teen Vogue. But with Vogue Living folded and Men’s Vogue reduced to a twice a year special, that has led to some contraction across the sales staff, and Helms’ role became redundant. Vogue still has four ad directors overseeing different business categories, and Connie Anne Phillips remains managing director.

Finally, GQ lost its director of special projects, Beth Altschull, but her departure was based on a personal decision. She’s getting married next June to TV and comedy writer Paul Simms. Altschull has been at GQ for seven years. Prior to that she worked for three years at Vanity Fair. GQ West Coast editor Chris Huvane will take over Altschull’s responsibilities.

— Stephanie D. Smith

ATLANTA CUTBACKS: Nor are the cuts restricted to New York media. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution said it will eliminate 56 full-time and 100 part-time jobs in the circulation department and reduce distribution by 5 percent in metro Atlanta. “Like many other media companies, the AJC faces unprecedented economic challenges,” said Robert W. Eickhoff, AJC senior vice president of operations. “We are committed to making our operations as efficient as possible, and these changes support that goal.”

The latest round of cuts is the third since 2007. The company said overall readership –— which is measured by readers rather than distributed copies — would not be affected significantly. The paper’s circulation fell to 274,999 in a six-month period ending in September, a 13.6 percent drop from a year ago, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations.

Cox Enterprises Inc., the $15 billion media firm that owns the Journal-Constitution, said next month it will merge its three media units to form a new company named Cox Media Group, which will include Cox Newspapers, Cox Radio and Cox Television. It will operate 17 daily and 26 non-daily newspapers, 15 television broadcast stations, 86 radio stations and more than 100 digital services associated with these businesses.

Cox in August reported other restructuring, including the planned sale of Valpak, a direct-mail advertiser, and all 11 of its standalone community newspapers in Texas, North Carolina and Colorado. The Journal-Constitution, the Dayton Daily News and The Palm Beach Post are the only Cox newspapers not for sale.

— Elizabeth Thurman

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