NBCU Taps Victoria's Secret Exec to Lead iVillage

Debi Fine Appointed President of Women's Online Property

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- The new president of NBC Universal's iVillage is a busy mother of two who describes herself as a "360-degree woman," echoing NBC's corporate mantra of being a 360-degree media company. Deborah Fine, who goes by Debi, knows a few things about women: She was raised in the magazine industry, where she rose up through such women-oriented titles as Glamour and Bride. In 2001 she departed Conde Nast to launch the Mark brand, part of Avon's Future division, which was intended to make the mature makeup company relevant to the 16-to-24 set. With Mark struggling to beat expectations, Fine left in 2005 for Limited Brands, where she headed up Victoria Secret's youth-skewing PINK brand. Three hours into her new iVillage gig, she chatted by phone with Ad Age about her plans at NBC Universal, where she will report to Beth Comstock, NBC Universal's president of digital media, and why iVillage-NBCU won't be troubled by the same forced synergy that afflicted AOL-Time Warner.
Deborah Fine
Deborah Fine

Advertising Age: You spent your last two jobs heading up brands that were charged with appealing to young women. Meanwhile, iVillage has been criticized as a middle-aged women's brand. Will you be trying to reach a similar youthful demographic at iVillage?
Debi Fine: I have had an incredibly exciting career carving out and building brands for women through multiple channels and media, and I'm excited to increase the scope of women we reach and not just effectively but credibly. I don't want to speak to the demography we're going after, but I will say we're looking to reach the largest group of women we can effectively and credibly.

AA: What are your priorities for the property?
Ms. Fine: It's hard to articulate priorities this early in the job, but I guess the first is to understand the assets of iVillage and then understand the assets at NBCU. Once we've assessed the inventory or roster of assets at iVillage and NBCU -- and there are a tremendous amount of moving parts -- we can figure out how they can combine to deliver exponential results. If you think about the scope of these two organizations and their ability to integrate, those points of intersection have tremendous potential. ... I want to leverage those assets for the ad community. I think overlaying of NBC's assets at iVillage will bring a fresh and exciting opportunity to marketplace. We have very strong women and health communities, and you'll see a lot of multichannel, multiplatform opportunities from us.

AA: AOL and Time Warner never seemed to find synergy between their assets. Why do you think iVillage and NBC will be a different story?
Ms. Fine: This acquisition is now only 100 days in or so. But we have two highly collaborative teams where there seems to be nothing but upside and a sense of camaraderie. If you look at the quotes of Bob Wright and Beth Comstock, they're saying iVillage is the centerpiece of their strategy to reach women and it was acquired with a real purposeful intent. There was a real meaning to this.

AA: What did you learn in your time as a marketer at both Avon's Mark and Limited Brands' Pink that you think will carry over to role at iVillage?
Ms. Fine: The teams I've worked with have executed really smart strategies that are applicable to lots of businesses. Whether it's creating strategic alliances, multichannel [marketing] or product placements, a lot of strategies we've used to drive other businesses will clearly be applicable here.

AA: You were at Conde Nast prior to Avon. What do you foresee as the magazine industry's biggest challenges in the digital-media world?
Ms. Fine: I was at Conde Nast for 23 years. I think across the board the challenges facing media businesses are all about consumer access. The onus is on business to deliver highest-quality and differentiated product to ensure the user is satisfied.
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