BRADY'S BUNCH

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Nancy Nadler LeWinter and Julie Lewit-Nirenberg are a hot ticket these days. So hot that when I lunched with them at the Four Seasons restaurant in Manhattan, Conde Nast chief Steve Florio came over to schmooze. And, like the Pope, only more so, people usually go over to Steve. The reason: Nancy and Julie are the geniuses behind Mode, the Advertising Age Launch of the Year monthly for women sizes 12 and larger (even much larger) (AA, Feb. 23). It's an idea so simple that you wonder why no one thought of it before. Or did anything about it. Nancy is tall and blond and Julie is tiny with close-cropped red hair and they talk with the fervor of a revival meeting about body "shape," not body "weight," being the key to this special fashion market. Does it work? After only 15 months (most of it as a quarterly) the rate base is 330,000, going to 375,000 this fall. In 1999, they expect to be selling a half million.

And where will you be in the year 2000? I inquired. "A million," said Ms. Julie in a charming Budapest accent. And why not? A quarterly became a monthly one year ahead of the business plan and they sold 300 ad pages in '97. As for deep pockets, they have a 50% partner, Freedom Communications in southern California (the very successful Orange County Register, etc.). In August they'll produce a one-shot Mode Girl for youngsters. And their figures say there are 65 million U.S. women "of a certain size?" "They love us!" say Nancy and Julie and pass around the fan letters to prove it.

Bloomingdale's topper Michael Gould hosting a book party at the store April 15 for longtime Harper's Bazaar and Vogue Beauty Editor Shirley Lord. Shirley's latest novel, "The Crasher," is just out from Warner Books.

With all the handwringing, the April issue of Conde Nast Sports for Women still ran 117 ad pages. That's the one with 6 foot 3 Gabrielle Reece on the cover.

New title for Scott Crystal of the National Geographic Society, their first ever publishing director. Scott's been VP-ad director. Stout fella!

Longtime magazine publisher Richard Barthelmes becomes director of marketing programs for Digital Marketing Services, a provider to America Online. Dick's been promoting and selling AOL as an advertising medium in N.Y. and through the Northeast.

They're shaking & baking at Rupert Murdoch's News America Publishing Group where Joe Kiener is the new president-CEO. He'd most recently been in the book biz at HarperCollins but his background was at EMI and other big music industry operations.

If Barry Diller, as threatened, kills off Ticketmaster's magazine, the L.A.-based Live!, recruiters will be lining up. Editor Annie Gilbar is a star and Publisher Carole Ference did a fab job with a tough sell.

Heinz USA promoted Anthony James Muscato to VP-marketing & business development in foodservice.

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