A WINK AND A NOD: Tyler Brulé’s fans should start speaking up, because his enemies are making themselves heard loud and clear. An anonymous one recently sent an e-mail outlining some of his alleged failures at Wink, the creative consultancy he bought back from Time Inc. and moved to Switzerland when he departed from Wallpaper last summer.

This story first appeared in the March 21, 2003 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Wink had lost major accounts, including charter client Selfridges, had run into delays on other projects and had laid off staff, according to the electronic heckler. It turns out Wink had indeed lost Selfridges, but Brulé said Wink added Bally in the meantime and that gaining and losing clients is a way of life.

But other sources said he’s finding it harder to attract clients since Wink separated from Wallpaper and its staff, which often labored on Wink projects as well. One of the Wallpaper Group’s more interesting accounting practices, which came to light after Brulé’s departure, was paying Wallpaper staffers a second salary from Time-owned Wink’s budget when they worked on the consultancy’s projects, said a source close to IPC Media, Time Inc.’s U.K. subsidiary. And then there were the personal expenses, said by several sources to have been in the high five figures each month and one of the flash points which led to his divorce from the company. And he continued hiring Wallpaper staffers on a freelance basis after he left, despite an agreement with IPC that he would not purge his former employees.

But Brulé contends it was all part of Time’s grand plan for Wallpaper and Wink. “For four years, Wink and Wallpaper were under the same umbrella,” he said. “The staff was all sitting on the same floor. Time Warner liked the idea of leveraging Wallpaper editorial staff members for Wink projects. That was the whole point of starting up Wink. Payment of Wallpaper staffers for Wink projects was sanctioned by Time. There was no double billing of clients for projects. That’s just absurd.

“There are currently no Wallpaper staffers working at Wink. It’s not permitted contractually. Besides, all of the Wallpaper people who I would want to work with are gone.”

— Greg Lindsay

BUT “ORGASM” IS STILL OK: It turns out sex writers can get as boring as the relationships they’re trying to spice up, particularly when they resort to overused cliches. Which is why a message came down from editor-in-chief Kate White’s top lieutenant Michele Promaulayko two weeks ago to the magazine’s features editors. “I get the feeling that KW doesn’t like referring to sex as ‘doing the nasty,’ or ‘getting your freak on,’ explained Promaulayko. “So please refrain.”

“Whenever editors try to slip in funny phrases for sex, they invariably get changed by me or Kate to something more straightforward,” said Promaulayko via a spokeswoman. “So my message was, why waste time?”

— Jacob Bernstein and G.L.

KA-CHING: Who needs catalogs that double as magazines when you can have magazines that double as catalogs? Harper’s Bazaar this week is mailing to 10,000 of its New York and L.A. subscribers discounted shopping at Luca Luca, Celine, Hugo Boss and Tsé. What’s that? Coupons you say?

— J.B.

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